Fifty years ago Uganda was the “Pearl of Africa,” a newly independent republic with a thriving economy, a functioning democracy and splendid national parks.
It was the place to take a safari holiday — floating down the crocodile-flanked Nile, fishing on Lake Victoria, wandering among the elephant herds of Queen Elizabeth National Park or listening to the roar of mighty Murchison Falls.
Now, Ephraim Katuntu, the Uganda Minister of Tourism has said the country has started an aggressive and marketing and promotion marketing campaign in order to increase tourist arrival from the current 1.3 million visitors to four million by the year 2020.
This comes hot on the heels of a tourism exhibition in Berlin, Germany. Uganda came fifth among the African countries and Kamuntu said they were aiming an improvement in the coming year.
According to a survey carried out by UTB and KPRN, European tour operators reported a booking increase for packages to Uganda in 2016 and expect a continuous rise for 2017.
About 30 Ugandan tourism businesses and Government agencies took part at the global tourism expo, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, the. It started on March 8, and concludes today Sunday 12th March 2017.
“This is a big step considering that Uganda was in the 10th in the previous exhibition,” Kamuntu said.
Kamuntu implored agencies, media and the visitors to popularize the country’s tourism and make it the best destination for tourists again. He said the country referred to as the Pearl of Africa has a lot to offer that remains unexploited.
“We should do everything possible to make our tourism centres very attractive,” he said, adding that the press via Social Media, Print Media, electronic media and make tourism the number one story.
“What does all this mean? We want private sector to employ more people, earn more money, improve accommodation and better skills,” said Kamuntu, adding that the country was going into aggressive marketing and promotion.
He also pointed out that the tourism sector, which contributes 10% of GDP and has captured to spot as the leading foreign exchange earner is one of the areas where President Yoweri Museveni wants improvement in order to create more employment and earn more revenue.
He was speaking at the Media Centre on Tuesday at a press conference called to give an update on Uganda’s tourism progress.
Uganda has a variety to offer in terms of tourism; an incredible array of landscapes that range from the snowcapped Mountains of the Moon and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to the semi-desert northeast and water-spangled lake district.
With more than 3 million people, Kampala is one of the fastest growing cities on the continent.
Nearby Entebbe, set on a peninsula stretching into Lake Victoria, is about as laid back as it gets in Africa.
Queen Elizabeth National Park nurtures healthy populations of elephant, lion, hippo and other large mammals, and is a major stop on the migratory bird route up the Great Rift Valley.
Home to 13 different primate species, Kibale National Park is one of the best places in Africa to see chimpanzees in the wild.
Murchison Falls National Park is flush with hippo, crocodile and other animals that live in or near the water.
The holy grail of Uganda wildlife watching is Bwindi Forest, where roughly half of the world’s mountain gorillas reside.
Living up to its “impenetrable” tag, the forest can only be accessed on foot, often up and over steep mountain ranges.
“Bwindi’s gorilla population is around 400 and growing.
“This is thanks to increased protection, the elimination of almost all poaching and the fact that we have been able to show local communities how saving the gorillas is beneficial to local health and the local economy.”