By Ayiga Ondoga
EFFECTIVE March 1, travel agents and airlines will begin charging dues for every air ticket processed or purchased from them, the Uganda Association of Travel Agentsâ€™ (TUGATA) chairman has said.
Steven Mworoz said in order to keep pace with current global travel trends, the travel industry in Uganda had joined the rest of the world in adopting a new business model for effective operations.
Mworoz noted that the new travel and business model would apply to most carriers operating into and out of Uganda.
â€œThe cost shall cater for the professional and value- added services offered to travellers since airline fares will be provided to the agents on a net basis,â€ he said, adding that the costs would be monitored in line with measures to fight the global financial crisis.
Mworoz said the new business model had already been implemented in Kenya and Tanzania and had resulted into an impressive travel system.
â€œAs a business, corporate or leisure traveller, you need to be aware of these changes since they affect your travel management company, your organisation, or you as an individual,â€ he advised.
Mworoz said: â€œAll TUGATA accredited travel agencies have professional staff who are well-trained, experienced and knowledgeable to ensure provision of best travel packages, offering the traveller value for money.â€
He said the public should take note of the changes and make good use of their TUGATA accredited travel agencies.
Source : https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1225960/travel-agents-levy-fee-tickets
Uganda is a gifted country, with variety to showcase to a tourist so much that if half of its tourism potential were to be realised, its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would immensely catapult economic development over and above its currently leading sectors.
Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) Country Director, Moses Sabiiti, observes that tourism is increasingly becoming a key source of livelihood and pride.
TMEA is regional company that supports growth of trade of different aspects, both in the region and beyond. At the local level, there are different associations that contribute to the growth of the tourism sector in Uganda.
Though spread at different times, there is a strategy and plan that each of the associations is implementing to galvanise the pluses in the sector and also deal with bottlenecks. Some are capitalising on the gains already achieved.
The single tourism visa
“Implementation of the single tourism visa has seen 4, 447 tourists applying for the single tourist visa in 2016. There has been development of four tourism products for marketing including Namugongo Shrine son et lumiere, Uganda National Museum Indigenous dinner, Uganda Rwenzori Cultural Trail and Interpretation Capacity Building for Birding.”
If implemented, Sabiiti anticipates that these are estimated to bring in about 275, 000 visitors in five years, and thereby strengthening competitiveness of Uganda as a tourist destination.
Richard Kawere, the technical director of Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) observes that world over, the countries that are doing well in international tourism, are doing well in domestic tourism first. To that end, he recommends that efforts to harness domestic tourism ought to be boosted.
UTA is an umbrella association that brings together all tourism associations in Uganda. “And here, we are talking about Ugandans and our neighbouring friends in the East Africa region. We must understand them and find out what products they like and be able to package that and sell it to them,” Kawere argues.
Domestic tourism packages
Uganda, like the neighbouring countries have undertaken efforts to boost domestic tourism. Uganda is running a flagship domestic tourism campaign called Tulambure (let’s travel).
Kenya is running a more successful one at a national level, called Twende Kenya where locals are encouraged to visit different tourism destinations with discounted rates for accommodation as a key element in travel.
Family and group travel plans are promoted among masses. Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), organisers of Tulambure, can pick a leaf from Kenya Tourism Board (UTB) on the promotional campaigns and general organisational strategy that draws in key sector players in the tourism industry.
UTB is the government’s agency in charge of marketing and promotion of destination Uganda to locals and the world. At the moment, UTB is undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts where much of its top leadership has been restructured in anticipation of attracting new and competitive members.
Building on past successes
Hon Daudi Migereko, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development is the chairman, board of directors at UTB. He says that the board has targets and looks forward to stepping up arrivals from 1.3 million to four million visitors to Uganda per year as a precursor to also increasing tourism’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 10 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020.
“To support these initiatives, several interventions are being pursued in regard to human resource capacity development, infrastructural capacity development, tourism facilities improvement/development, marketing and publicising Uganda as a preferred tourists’ destination,” Migereko explains.
Targeted marketing strategy
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) shares similar objectives, documented in the national tourism sector development plan 2015/16-2019/20 which identifies five critical areas of interventions for unlocking the potential of tourism development.
“These areas are marketing and promotion human resource development, product development, natural and cultural resource conservation, and tourism management and regulation,” the AUTO strategic plan 2016-2020 states, in part.
AUTO is Uganda’s leading tourism trade association, representing the interests of the country’s professional tour operators.
From a marketing point of view, and more specific terms, Kawere says that events, marine tourism and generally fun activities are a good point to start. Packaging such events is what UTB needs to look at, and give thought on how to encourage Ugandans to travel.
“That even with a small budget, one is able to travel. Most Ugandans travel for burials, kwanjula (introduction ceremonies) and wedding ceremonies but they can be encouraged to visit areas on top of a wedding,” UTA’s director suggests.
He adds that for this to be realised, there is need for a harmonised and coherent marketing strategy. “There is need to understand what the market needs to consume. What do the local people actually enjoy? There are efforts to put the strategy in place to guide the domestic marketing.”
Migereko says that part of the strategy, is for UTB to pay a lot of attention to and take advantage of the emerging tourism products such as meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE), faith based tourism, birding as additions to the other traditional products.
“In our strategy, running from 2018 to 2022, we will continue supporting the tourism sector. Key interventions include, implementation and marketing of the four products develops (feasibility studies and fundraising), empowering women in the tourism value chain by linking communities to tourism products and improving the handicrafts sector, and enhancing the institutional sustainability of tourism association,” Sabiiti affirms.
Strength in numbers
Pearl Hoareau, chairperson of The Uganda Association of Travel Agents (TUGATA) that runs under UTA umbrella, is grateful to TMEA for funding towards formulation of the association’s five-year (2016- 20121) Strategic Plan that was achieved through consultative workshops.
She adds that to survive in the industry and be able to offer value to the tourism sector, the travel agent has had to evolve, to also offer more to the sector’s clientele.
“If we are to survive, we must look to new avenues to support our businesses and become innovative on how we serve our clients. TUGATA shall therefore, as per recommendations in the Strategic Plan, embark on training our members to gain the necessary skills to ensure competitiveness and compliance,” Hoareau explains.
In its five-year strategy, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), which brings together 450 hotels operating in different parts of Uganda, Jean Byamugisha, its Executive Director, says it is looking at streamlining the growth and organisation of the sector.
She explains that the hotel sector is providing a solution to the unemployment challenge through providing jobs to youths, particularly in the age bracket of 15 and 30 years. “77 per cent of our staff are aged between 18-30years while 58 per cent of our entire workforce are women,” she adds.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UTB, Stephen Asiimwe, observes that 1, 281 hotels were registered during the year and 25 hotels were classified.
Favourite destination for Africans
“Uganda’s tourism sector is on consistent upward growth. According to UBOS (Uganda Bureau of Standards) statistical abstract (2016), Uganda received 1.32 million tourist arrivals. The number of arrivals through the gazetted border posts increased by 4.1 per cent between 2015 and 2016,” Asiimwe explains.
He observes that in 2016, most tourist arrivals in the country were from the African continent, accounting for 79.2 per cent, followed by Europe at 8.3 per cent, Asia at 5.5 per cent and America at 5.4 per cent.
“Tourists from the neighbouring countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounted for 64 per cent of all visitor, or tourism arrivals.
“These promising tourism statistics were attributed to various factors and aspects and there is no doubt UTB had an amazing contribution basing on the intensity of activities and initiatives done in 2016/2017. The financial year was busy for UTB as an organisation recorded a number of milestones and achievements in both at domestic level, regional and international level,” UTB’s CEO further explains.
“That does not take away the fact that we need to create marketing campaigns and high levels of awareness to Uganda of the very many attractive things within their reach that they can be able to see,” Kawere observes.
He commends the efforts to have a strategic plan which was consultatively done, to promote Uganda and hopes that it can consistently be followed with measurable outputs.
“Marketing is a continuous engagement and efforts to remind the client what is available and good for them. To UTB, this is a beginning of a journey of engagement of all sectors and needs support. If we think we can leave marketing of the country to UTB, we are lying to ourselves. It is a collective effort. It should be leading but with supporting blocks of the marketing of the destination,” Kawere further argues.
KAKOOZA SAYS TRAVEL AGENTS ARE THERE FOR YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. OUR SERVICE DOES NOT END AT THE SALE OF AN AIR TICKET
Uganda Association of Travel Agents has clocked 20 years this year. Richard Wetaya spoke to Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the chairperson of the association about the milestones they have achieved and their contribution to the tourism industry in Uganda.
Twenty years down the road, what is there to celebrate for the Uganda Association of Travel Agents?
There is a lot to celebrate. First, our membership has grown. In 1999, we started with 12 members. Now we are 100. The fact that the Uganda Association of Travel Agents was recognised by Industry Airlines and Global Distribution System (GDS) Service Providers, such as Amadeus and Travel port Industry Stakeholders is worth celebrating.
In the same breath, we also reckon it is worthwhile to celebrate the recognition; the association has gotten through the years as the voice of Uganda travel agents.
In the 20 years, the association has been able to draft a five-year strategic plan that maps out its strategic direction, set up a functioning secretariat, built capacity for members through trainings and set up a database for its members.
What is the impact of your contribution to Uganda’s travel and tourism market?
The association has liaised with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure adherence to professional standards and ethical practices within the tourism industry.
We have also contributed to the marketing of Uganda’s premier tourist destinations through the exhibitions we have held.
The country’s tourism travel distribution system has grown, over the years. In terms of numbers, how many sector players are running the travel agency economy now?
There are about 400 agents, but officially, 100 agents are registered with the association. We are also working with the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), to ensure that the industry is better regulated.
There is concern that some travel agencies have just made the sector crowded. How does the association ensure that travel agencies are enforcing quality assurance?
The tourism industry as a whole must be properly regulated. We encourage our members and non-members to register their businesses with UTB, so that tourists can have confidence in them.
Our quality assurance team is being reconstituted under UTB. In addition to that, a new code of conduct shall be signed by all travel professionals and with the regulation of the industry starting to take shape, Tourism Police, included, we envisage seeing proper travel professionals who are committed to delivering a good service to their clients. We are working closely with GDSs to ensure that any connected agency meets minimum standards.
Source : https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1500835/travel-set-tugata