Digitization changes tourism perspective of Uganda


Digitization has been changing the whole perspective of tourism in the world.  From searching for the next trip destination, checking in at the airport, or when looking up foreign dishes on the menu, digital technology has a significant role.

While the world has been celebrating the World Tourism Day, the tagline was ‘Tourism and Digital Transformation’, citing the influence of digital media in the tourism sector.

Just like the global tourism industry, the Ugandan market is steadily adapting to the digital trends. There is an ease in accessibility and personalized experiences.

Tourism businesses and organisations have effectively created digital solutions to improve their sales, awareness and brand image. Most local tour operators optimize their websites to increase their performances. The companies struggle to stand out in an internet era to capture the attention of the tourist who is tech-savvy, and social.

Speaking about the subject, Denis Ntege, the Director, Raft Uganda, said the development of digital business has enabled his adventure business along the Nile to expand into new markets, enhance client interaction and lower costs of marketing.

“Our user-friendly website has enabled us capture the millenials because we share appealing photos, and short videos,” he adds.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continue to play a vital role in the communication strategy of tourism businesses. There are revelations that social media generates return on investment as a form of marketing.

“Schools, families, celebrities and corporates are the biggest domestic market for Ugandan tourism, who also use digital technologies and these are the ones we are targeting,” says  John Ssempebwa, Deputy Chief, Ugandan Tourism Board.

Apart from social media, mobile applications also play an important role in the tourism sector these days. In the current smart phone environment, virtually tourism business components in accessibility, accommodation, attractions have their own apps. Users often download apps to ease service provision.

Edson Birungi, the director of Encounter Africa Safaris, says the e-tourism has given new companies an edge over the old ones and he thinks the old companies should not stay stuck with old fashioned ways of doing business, but rather embrace technology for smart business.

Reviews on famous travel and tourism portals like Trip Advisor have been getting more acceptability to travellers. Local tourism and hospitality businesses continue to look for positive reviews on Trip Advisor.  Winners of the Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence proudly display their awards and celebrate it as a mark of achievement.

“There are many of such Tourism potential elements that are still unknown in Uganda. In fact, a locally development online database would come in handy. Digital platforms only work if they are furnished with rich and accurate information,” says Ben Ntale Oleni, Vice Chairperson AUTO.

He further suggests the need to step-up the online representation to have more of positive portrayal than negative ones to attract potential tourists.

“Digital transformation is muddled because there is little or no state control/regulation as regards the information put online for global consumption. We need to encourage our people to invest more in the positivity,” he explains.