QR Codes Dominate at Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo 2024

QR Codes dominate at Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo 2024
QR Codes dominate at Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo 2024

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) championed best practices in responsible destination management and positioned Uganda as a sustainable tourism destination in the global marketplace.

For the first time in its eight-year history, this year’s Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2024 lived up to its theme of responsible tourism with QR codes increasingly being deployed by exhibitors in place of paper brochures.

With this strategic direction, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) championed best practices in responsible destination management and positioned Uganda as a sustainable tourism destination in the global marketplace.

To ensure observance, UTB distributed reusable bottles to over 200 exhibitor companies and placed water dispensers at the entrance to the exhibition halls. The UTB pavilion was also donned with rustic bamboo frames and QR codes for information feedback.

An event catalogue was printed with an option for a digital version copy in order to fit with the theme and with sustainability messaging .

For several exhibitors and visitors who had slipped through with single use mineral water bottles, UTB Marketing Manager Claire Mugabi was constantly on the Public Address system cautioning individuals who had broken the rules.

For the hosted buyers apart from a few souvenirs to pick up , they were relieved of having to carry brochures along on several appointments in the three days or excess baggage back home.

Uganda Tourism Board organizing Committee Co-Chaired by Peter Mwanje and a team of public and private sector representatives had been preparing for the bigger part of 2023 to ensure the event lived up to the theme. Unlike POATE 2023 that had outdoor marquees for exhibitors that presented several problems caused by the storms from Lake Victoria, POATE 2024 was gifted with the newly constructed Speke Resort Convention Centre, Munyonyo constructed in local slate stone facing bricks in record time for the G77 Heads of State and Non-Aligned Movement conference held in January 2024. The cultural village was positioned outdoors in the marquees and open air setups.

In 2023 UTB signed collaboration with Dutch government backed CBI (Centre for The Promotion of Exports from Developing Countries) boosting their sustainability journey. This followed training of the sector enterprises to strengthen their social economic and environmental sustainability. The CBI was also able to sponsor several exhibitors under their stand who received outstanding accolades for sustainability stands. Buganda Kingdom stand stood out with overall with centuries old grass thatched architecture while Karatunga for animating the Karimojong culture.

In February, 2024 UTB joined the (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) that establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria.

Prominent amongst the exhibitors was the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) stand that had their QR code stamped on their desk replacing tons of brochures that they used to distribute.

UWA joined the Climate Friendly Travel (CFT) Network in March 2024 following the launch of 100 Climate Friendly Travel(CFT) Chapters on World Tourism Day, 2023.

Climate Friendly Travel is a global Registry for 2050 Zero GHG Ambitions and a catalyst for increased sector carbon reduction and the Travel & Tourism conduit to the (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) UNFCCC Climate Action Portal. In Uganda close to 100 members have signed up to the registry.

UWA’s Grace Mubeezi has successfully interfaced with the CFT Uganda to implement their climate action plan and has committed to signing up all park wardens for a series of CFT induction training workshops that were announced during the exhibition.

On the sidelines of the expo were seminars on Meetings Incentives Conferences and Events (MICE) tourism, Technology in tourism and notably one on Sustainable Tourism moderated by tourism Professor Jim Ayorokeire of Makerere University, Kampala on the topics ”How the sectors represented are supporting tourism development in general, What needs to be done to enhance your sector or organization , contribution towards attainment of SDGs, How have you domesticated and implemented international responsible tourism practices in your operations, key lessons have you picked from implementing responsible tourism practices that you would like to share with other actors in the sector, what SDGs does your sector or organization mainly contribute to and how does this support responsible tourism development.”

On SDG 4 and 5 related to Education and Access to clean energy, Pauline Mc Donald Environment and Biodiversity Manager Total Energies EPU committed to supplying cleaner Liquid Petroleum Gas acknowledging that oil and gas do not mix with tourism, she committed sponsorship of scholarships and in addition sponsoring the ‘explore Uganda ‘ Uganda Tourism Board app.

David Luyimbazi Deputy Executive Director of Kampala City Capital Authority said the city was promoting of non motorized walk ways initiatives, partnership with Coca-Cola to collect plastic bottles that are straining the drainage systems and use of solar street lighting among other initiatives.

Also on the Panel was Jeanette Scherpenzeel Program Manager CBI who linked the development work to SDG N0. 8 and 12 B and the role of their program in Uganda to create a space for sustainable and community products to bring and connect them to the European market.

On waste management Daniel Kangu Country General Manager of Serena said the Serena Hotels have moved away from single use plastic bottles to glass bottles, to paper straws, garbage separation and the garbage collectors have been engaged to ensure that they carry on at disposal state.

Anna Grodzki Managing Director of Matoke tours said as a tour operator we focus on off season travel, regions less traveled , inclusion of more communities in the value chain, gender equality and responsible production consumption in the value chain.

The three-day event was crowned with a dinner at the Speke Convention Centre after fam trips , cultural entertainment, nightlife safari and engagements with several exhibitors and trade visitors. The dinner was presided over by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Mrs. Doreen Katusime hosted by Uganda Tourism Boards Chair Pearl Kakooza and Lilly Ajarova who together with the UTB team used the opportunity to launch the new Uganda Tourism board Brand.

WTNJOIN | eTurboNews | eTN

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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