Tourism authorities in Uganda are targeting about Ush12.2 billion ($3.3m) as return on investments from this year’s Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) slated for between April 23 and 25.

The 6th edition of the annual expo was earlier scheduled for February but could not take off due to measures put in place by the government to contain spread of Covid-19.

The POATE brings together domestic, regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate tourism business.

With the sector being one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic brought about travel restrictions world over, Uganda is dedicating this year’s expo to devise ways of bouncing the sector back to its feet. It is themed; “Restarting Tourism for Regional Economic Development.”

According to the Uganda Tourism Board, the industry had lost an estimated 1 million foreign tourists by December 2020, translating into up to Ush3.91 trillion ($1.06 billion) in foreign exchange earnings.

“Well aware that different players in the sector were affected variously, the key focus of POATE 2021, will be on 4 major sub-topics i.e. Recovery, Rebuilding; Reconnecting and rebooting the sector,” Ms Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board chief executive told The EastAfrican.

This year’s POATE will be virtual in order to observe restrictions on large gatherings in the country and international.

One-on-one meetings and other sessions will be held on virtual meeting platform that will also facilitate live conference sessions for domestic, regional and international tourism players.