By Edwin Muhumuza
The year 2018 is poised to be Uganda’s best ever in regard to tourism. These were remarks made during the launch of the Tulambule Christmas campaign by the Uganda Tourism Board.
2017’s numbers have already been surpassed by 300,000 visitors.
‘So far statistics show that this will be Uganda’s best ever year in tourism in terms of numbers and awareness,’ said John Sempebwa, Deputy CEO,UTB.
In 2017,Uganda registered 1.4 million tourists and now the figures indicate an increase to 1.7million,two months before the end of this year.
The festive season is always one of the busiest with anticipated return of Ugandans living in the Diaspora as well as tourists fleeing the winter season in Europe.
‘Lets get Ugandans to book early, because some of these places(hotels and lodges) will be full to avoid disappointment.’ added Sempebwa.
At the same event state minister of tourism, Hon. Kiwanda Ssuubi remarked that his ministry is striving to achieve a target of 4 million tourists by 2020 and it will be achieved through aggressive marketing and awareness locally and internationally.
Several stakeholders have pledged to support the campaign including KCCA, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Uganda Wild Life Centre Tourism Police, Uganda Wild Life Authority, Igongo Cultural Centre, Ssese Islands Beach Hotels and others.
‘’our most important effort will be directed towards ensuring that we have a safe city working with the police and enforcement agencies ‘’ said Deputy Director Social services KCCA Ambrose Atwoko.
He added that they will want to maintain a green and clean city, improve and deploy more personnel to de-clog drainage, sweep streets, ensure functioning lights as well as ensuring facilities are ready to meet medical emergencies.
Commissioner of Police, commandant Tourism Police ,Frank Mwesigwa,says they are prepared in this festive season to make sure all tourists are safe and secure in all tourism destination points.
‘My appeal is one, sometimes we have tourists who are VIPs who want to come into the country incognito, feel free to contact us so that we plan on how to secure those VIP tourists. We do not want to hear a VIP tourist getting problems in Uganda, we can deploy covertly to ensure their safety’.
Executive Director, Uganda Wild Life Authority, James Musinguzi, said the entire festive season up to Valentines’ day has been packed with activities such as childrens’ games, competitions, puppet shows, Christmas carols, zoo festival including acrobatics, boat rides, beach games, feeding wild animals among others.
Uganda’s tourism sector is on consistent upward growth. According to UBOS (Uganda Bureau of Standards) statistical abstract (2016), Uganda received 1.32 million tourist arrivals. The number of arrivals through the gazetted border posts increased by 4.1 per cent between 2015 and 2016.
In 2016, most tourist arrivals in the country were from the African continent, accounting for 79.2 per cent, followed by Europe at 8.3 per cent, Asia at 5.5 per cent and America at 5.4 per cent.
Tourists from the neighboring countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounted for 64 per cent of all visitor, or tourism arrivals.