Uganda exhibited at Turkey’s largest international tourism platform, pitching the country's tourism sector to hundreds of thousands of guests from different parts of the world.
According to Uganda's Embassy in Turkey, Izmir International Tour and Travel Expo run from December 2-4 and was hosted in the Turkish Aegean coastal city of Izmir bringing together over 800 exhibitors.
The expo was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and TURSAB Exhibition Services.
"The exhibition offered sectoral opportunities and established communication and business connections for Uganda," officials said.
"Key connections of sectors beneficial to Uganda included; hotels and accommodation, cultural tourism, airline opportunities, travel agencies, business tourism particularly in coffee and fruits, medical tourism, education tourism, active and adventure tourism among others," they added.
"Ugandan pineapple and coffee caused a lot of excitement at the Uganda stand and attracted hundreds of thousands of guests and enthusiasts that were served fresh Uganda pineapple and coffee specially imported from Uganda for the exhibition. Other Ugandan items that were of special interest to guests and other exhibitors were Ugandan hand-made baskets, Ankole cow horns, Ugandan mangoes, and wildlife."
Uganda’s Ambassador to Turkey Stephen Mubiru also promoted Uganda’s unique trade opportunities and competitive investment climate and potential.
Ugandan exhibitors that traveled for the exhibition include Raw Travel, Gracious Tours & Travel, Next Zenith Tours & Travel as well as Jaskom International which specializes in coffee roasting.
Kampala in November opened up an Honorary Consulate in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya in the south of Turkey, having approved Emek Eker as the East African nation's Honorary Consul to one of Turkey’s top tourist provinces.
Uganda's exports to Turkey increased by 30% in the first 9 months of 2021, according to Kerem Alp, the Turkish Ambassador to Uganda.
The ambassador attributed the growth to strong and enabling diplomatic policies established between the two countries.
"Clearly, increased contacts between our citizens had positive consequences for our bilateral trade. Our trade volume reached its peak in 2019, before the pandemic. Yet, in spite of the lockdowns, we managed to increase trade volume in 2020 by around 50%," the ambassador said in a statement.
"Our motto is: if Turkish traders want to sell more to Uganda, they should buy more from Uganda. This formula has worked well in 2021, Uganda’s exports to Turkey in the first 9 months of 2021 have increased by 30%."
Alp noted that by the end of 2021, total bilateral trade is expected to reach all-time record of US $70 million.
President Yoweri Museveni in October met with a delegation of investors from Turkey whom he impressed upon the idea of investing “in Uganda’s vibrant fruit processing sector”.
In a post-meeting statement, the Turkish embassy said it would focus on simsim and coffee initially, before transitioning to other sectors.
“Message well received from His Excellency and we shall focus on coffee, simsim and other food processing sectors for which Turkey is a big export market,” read the statement.
“We thanked him for keeping Uganda in peace and our investors safe.”
Turkey and Uganda have had diplomatic relations since 1969 and the Asian nation opened an embassy in Kampala in 2010.
Uganda's Embassy in Ankara was commissioned in 2011.
Away from trade, Turkey supports Uganda in its humanitarian activities, Ugandans have benefited from scholarships in Turkey and the two nations have strong security ties.