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Saturday, 21st July 2018
H.E. Richard Nduhuura (R) at the Uganda Stand with his Deputy Amb. Kamahungye (Center R) and Minister Counselor Mrs Dora Kutesa (Center L) during Bastile Day 2018
The Mission in Paris identified promoting Uganda as a viable destination for French tourists and investors as one of the best approaches in advancing and implementing commercial diplomacy.

Uganda participated for the second time as an exhibitor at the Diplomatic Garden Party, hosted by La Lettre Diplomatique during the French national day known as Bastille Day. This event annually brings together over 1300 guests from the diplomatic community, delegates from international bodies, representatives from major businesses, to mention but a few.

During this year's exceptional exhibition, the Mission took the opportunity to partner with Total France, the leading investor in Uganda's Oil & Gas sector with over 60 years' experience in Uganda.  This partnership was in order for Total to showcase why Uganda should be considered as the best destination for investments by other French companies. As Ugandans would know, Total is one of the largest companies in France, contributing greatly to their GDP. Therefore, any choice of investment destination decided on by Total is taken seriously by other prospective investors. This is because for Total to invest huge amounts of fixed capital, they must have considered all possible factors and outcomes. 

At the Diplomatic Garden Party, the Mission screened videos provided by Total that showed the major developments Total has undertaken in Uganda. This video did not just show Uganda's investment potential, but also showed Uganda as a country with unique and exclusive tourist experiences that French tourists are always looking for.

Uganda's exhibition stand at the event was further boosted by the presence of French Tour Operators who partnered with the Mission to highlight the attractive tourist experiences that Uganda provides. Mr. Romain Villame, project manager of BKE Audio-visual and Graphic Creation France, set up Virtual Reality equipment which featured Ugandan touristic hotspots in a 3D experience for guests. Virtual Reality is an approach that French Tour Operators use to provide interactive experiences for tourists intending to select destinations to visit. For up to 5 minutes, guests could be virtually transported to Uganda where they could see up close mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park, chimpanzees in Kibaale National Park, the Big 5 in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks, and also Uganda's beautiful landscapes like Mgahinga hills, the glacier peaks of Mt. Rwenzori as well as the source of the River Nile. Friendly faces of Ugandans also made appearances in the Virtual Reality video which will further attract French tourists.

In the characteristic nature of French tourists, six of the people who participated in the Virtual Reality experience immediately requested appointments with the Mission so that they could book travel to Uganda to partake in gorilla trekking as well as to visit the other sites highlighted in the Virtual Reality video.

For the first time Uganda was able to attract and partner with French Tour Operators at the exhibition and we think that this is a starting point and an opportunity that Uganda must grab and utilize to attract French tourists. Unfortunately UTB and Uganda Tour Operators failed to make it to this exhibition due to unforeseen circumstances, which made Uganda miss out on the rare opportunity of teaming up face to face with French Tour Operators that could have resulted into practical business contracts. The Mission had carefully selected and met with French Tour Operators who had agreed to meet Ugandan Tour Operators on 13th July to exclusively discuss best ways to attract French tourists to Uganda. 

Despite this missed opportunity however, the Mission is still convinced that if the appropriate steps and measures highlighted in our economic reports to Kampala particularly on tourism promotion are taken, Uganda can attract not less than 10,000 French tourists per year at the start.

However, the French Tour Operators that we are partnering with are more optimistic and believe that with the unique and exclusive tourist experiences that Uganda offers, she could attract 30,000-40,000 French tourists per year, if only the parameters that they have identified are undertaken by Uganda.

The measures to be undertaken include vigorously promoting Uganda as a destination in France. This would require a contract to be signed between the Paris Mission, UTB, Uganda Tour Operators and Tour Operators in France, which certainly comes with a cost. The Mission will be submitting the concept note with the costed activities that will require attention from the Ministry responsible for Tourism, UTB and Uganda Tour and Hotel Operators.