Nation Still Among Top 10 Tourism Destinations

Uganda continues to attract impressive reviews as a result of its beauty, with new rankings placing it yet again among the top 10 tourism destinations on the continent.

Bloom Consulting, a Madrid-based firm, ranks Uganda in eighth position in the 201415 rankings released last week. Last year, the firm ranked Uganda in the same position.

The new rankings, however, place neighbouring countries Kenya at fourth and Tanzania in the fifth position. South Africa ranked top, overtaking Egypt, after the North African country experienced insecurity over the last 18 months. Only Ethiopia (10th) and Uganda were the only landlocked countries that were ranked among the top ten.

Bloom, which specialises in country branding and rankings, says east African countries had an aantage due its “natural wonders and safari.”

The study also looked at the country’s branding and online presence as key drivers to letting tourists know what that particular state offered.

“[The study] incorporates unique variables such as the online search demand, which measures the online appeal of a country and the country brand strategy rating (CBS),” said the report.

The latest ranking comes in at a time when government is being urged to rethink its focus on the sector, with requests to allocate more money allocated to marketing and branding. In August, Bank of Uganda figures showed that tourism had surpassed coffee and diaspora remittances, becoming the country’s top foreign exchange earner at $ 1.4bn in 2013.

While Kenya and Tanzania are rated AA and A respectively in the CBS ratings, Uganda is rated BB, an indication that Uganda has not been aggressive in branding itself, especially using the online platforms. Amos Wekesa, the managing director of Great Lakes Safaris, said the ranking showed the country needed to do much more to let foreigners know what was available here.

“For me this shows that if Uganda woke up and invested in good national branding, this country would be a star performing nation,” Wekesa posted on his Facebook wall.

Bloom Consulting says online presence, including capitalising on social media platforms, is crucial to enhance a country’s image. While Uganda Wildlife Authority has a Facebook page, it has not posted there anything about these rankings. On the other hand, Uganda Tourism Board last posted something on its page three weeks ago.

Stephen Asiimwe, the UTB boss, told The Observer recently that Uganda’s biggest challenge was insufficient funds to promote the industry. This financial year, the board was allocated Shs 5bn, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of dollars that Kenya and Rwanda gives to its marketing bodies. Asiimwe says government should double their budget to at least Shs 10bn annually.

The anti-gay law, which was later quashed, continues to taint the country’s image. When the online tour magazine Lonely Planet ranked Uganda number one among the top ten countries to visit in Africa in 2012, it warned tourists of one of “the most homophobic countries” in the world.

Source : The Observer

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