Social Media Could Plug Tourism Promotion Funding Gap

In a move to boost Uganda’s tourism sector, players in the industry have been urged to adopt the use of social media tools as part of the marketing and promotion strategies.

Speaking at a one day digital marketing and management of tourism workshop, Mr Damian Cook, chief executive officer of e-Tourism Frontiers noted that using social media such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, myspace and Youtube is a low cost and efficient platform for countries with limited marketing budgets like Uganda.

The industry was allocated about Shs2.1 billion in the 2010/2011 financial budget and the amount has not changed in the 2011/2012 budget.

“Over 56 per cent of travel globally is booked online. This is the best way to market a country,” Mr Cook said in Kampala yesterday.

With online marketing, the search for tourism destination, bookings and payments are all done online.

He noted that players in the tourism industry need to strategize by allocating at least 25 per cent of their money, human resource and time to online management and marketing of tourism.

The executive director Uganda Tourism Board, Mr Cuthbert Baguma noted the popularity of social media presents enormous opportunities for Uganda’s tourism industry.

He noted that Uganda would use the new cost-effective platform to promote Uganda’s image as the most preferred tourism destination among the local and international tourists.

The chairman Association of Uganda Tour Operators, Mr Bonifence Byamukama noted that with the use of the new technology, they anticipate to boost arrivals and increase sales in the sector.

The sector’s target is to receive at least a million international tourists this year but Mr Byamukama was optimistic that with the use of social media, the number might rise to 1.5 tourists within two years.

South Africa and Morocco are among the few countries on African continent that have harnessed the use of social media as tourism marketing platform.

In the East African region, it is only Kenya that has also adopted the innovation.

The 2010 World Cup is said to have boosted the growth of online tourism in South Africa. The World Cup also boosted Africa’s revenue from online tourism from 2 per cent in 2005 to 5 per cent in 2010.