UTB rejects UTA Allegations to boycott Destination Brand Event

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Uganda Tourism Board has disclaimed all allegations of private sector key players of not working under their interests in regard to the development process of destination brand.

On Thursday, January 19th, 2022, Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) a national union body for all private tourism key prayers, publically announced to deliberately boycott the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) event dubbed “Rediscover the magnificence of our pearl” scheduled for Friday 21st January 2022.

According to the UTB press release that surfaced on Thursday 20th indicates that largely requested all key players and involved them in all the processes to rebranding where even UTA sent a representative.

In the statement, UTB said, “We are also concerned that the new team of UTA is being deliberately dishonest to their membership over the extensive consultative process that UTB has had with the various UTA leaders over the last two years that it has taken to develop and subsequently ready this new brand for launch.”

UTB statement indicates that on 24th August 2021, the Board wrote to the UTA requesting for the nomination of 15 members of its association to attend the Pearl of Africa Brand consultative meeting on 26th August 2021 at the Kampala Serena Hotel – Addis Hall at 9:00 am.  The meeting was attended by representatives from various players of AUTO, UACII, UTA, UHOA, NACCAU, AUWOTT, TUGATA, USAGA, and HOGMAU.

In this meeting, UTA was represented by Ms. Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the then president (UTA), Mr. Richard Kawere, Chief Executive Officer (UTA), and Mr. Denis Ntege (UTA).

While UTB fully appreciates the plight of the tourism sector and has previously worked and continues to engage the entire public and private tourism stakeholder base to find a sustainable solution to sector challenges, UTB is shocked that the new leadership of UTA is attempting, at the last minute to mislead its membership about one of the most strategic government interventions into restarting and rebuilding the tourism sector. In the UTB statement.

Statement by UTA

According to a press statement by UTA President Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga “We as the private sector of tourism and hospitality, have decided to boycott this event being organized by the Uganda Tourism Board -a Government Agency.”

He said, “It is not, and never has it been our wish to disconnect ourselves from anything related to tourism organized by any government agency in this country but due to many reasons, the private sector of tourism and hospitality (array of associations) has taken a decision to turn down this invitation.”

Reasons for the boycott, lack of engagement by the government (tourism) in decision making and planning for the launch of the new brand event, and many other initiatives which make the private sector of tourism and hospitality feel sidelined.

Byaruhanga said, “It is a shame that government can plan to re-discover the magnificence of country when the real actors are not fully consulted for their input to ensure maximum benefits from the drive”

Yet being the drivers of the business, the association feels excluded from this entire process. It should be noted that tour operators and other actors spend millions of dollars traversing continents looking for tourists/clients. This contributes so much to the country’s revenue for example 2018/19, Uganda registered 1.4 Billion dollars from tourism”.

The statement also noted how the government of Uganda has deliberately ignored the tourism business without any stimulus package, a development that has seen many of the SMEs closes without any help or support hand from the government throughout the Corona Pandemic.

“Thirdly, the government (tourism) has on several occasions conducted activities or procurements that seem to compete and undermine private sector or discouraged activities of private sector players”

He says the government has deliberately ignored tourism in the recent high-level workshop “5th Economic Growth Forum” that was held at Kampala Serena Hotel on the 13th January 2022. Yet tourism is a very fundamental sector in Uganda.

“Therefore it does not make sense to us, the private sector of tourism and hospitality to blindly engage in activities of government to flag off initiatives where we are left out of the initial planning process”

“Moreover, UTB deems it right to extend invitations to private sector players to attend and listen to their undertakings and approve without any contributions which are clear rubberstamping the private sector players. To our end, this is irresponsible and utter disregard of the private sector. This is unacceptable and we will not embrace or use the brand”.

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