UGANDA: “SHED OFF THE LRA WAR IMAGE AND REBRAND ‘THE PEARL OF AFRICA’ AND PROMOTE TOURISM”-EU ENVOY

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Vice President, Mr. Edward Ssekandi, arriving at Pece Stadium for World Tourism Day celebration.

“Welcome to the Pearl of Africa. This country is extremely beautiful and diverse. You should consider rebranding the Pearl of Africa. Many potential tourists still look at Uganda with the LRA war lenses and it takes time to remove that perception and mindset”

“NRM fighters started from a complete collapse of society. Tourism had declined and roads were poor or nonexistence. We have now overcome most of those challenges and Uganda is now a secure country for the first time in 500 years. We have tried to improve on infrastructures. You can now drive on tarmac road from boarder to boarder”

GULU-UGANDA:Ugandans have been called upon to shed off the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war image, which befell the country for over two decades, and rebrand the country to promote tourism since it is ‘an extremely beautiful country’ which was once described by our colonial masters as ‘The Pearl of Africa’.

The call was made by the European Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Henk Jan Bakker, on Friday, September 27, 2019 from Pece War Memorial Stadium in Gulu City, Northern Uganda, during national celebrations to mark World Tourism Day held under the theme: ‘Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future For Us All’.

“Welcome to the Pearl of Africa. This country is extremely beautiful and diverse. You should consider rebranding the Pearl of Africa. Many potential tourists still look at Uganda with the LRA war lenses and it takes time to remove that perception and mindset”, says the envoy.  

He observed that infrastructures like roads and electricity coupled with ill-trained hospitality staffs in national parks is still poor and the staffs lack the right skills to attractive potential tourists. He urged government to partner with the private sector and initiate training and skills programs for both new and old staffs in the hospitality industries so as to improve on the kind of services they offer to tourists.

“You should intensify in-service training programs for hotel staffs and make sure that new comers get the right skills. Infrastructures like road network and electricity is still poor in your national parks. Improve on awareness, especially of ecotourism since the country has many unique animal spices and trees which should be protected from poachers and those who destroy the environment.

Pece War Memorial Stadium was built by the British colonial masters in memory of our forefathers who ‘sacrifice their lives and fought’ alongside the British in the World Wars, I and II. Plans are underway to rebuild the stadium to meet international standards for sports and tourism.

United Nation Development Program (UNDP) country representative in Uganda, Ms. Elsie Attafuah, says she was ‘marveled at the beautiful rich culture’ of Uganda; which confirms that the country is truly the ‘Pearl of Africa’.

She revealed that Uganda earned US$ 1.6 billion from tourism alone in 2018 which represents 7.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and that it created 600,000 new jobs for Ugandans.

“This proves that tourism is no longer a choice, but a necessity to develop. However, sustainable tourism means that gender equality must be emphasized and protecting the environment is a must. Rural community remains excluded from the benefit that tourism can provide. Look at full capacity of all”, says the UNDP country representative.

In his message, read by the Vice President, Mr. Edward Ssekandi, President Yoweri Museveni said when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government came into power in 1986, tourism had declined and roads were poor or nonexistence.

“NRM fighters started from a complete collapse of society. Tourism had declined and roads were poor or nonexistence. We have now overcome most of those challenges and Uganda is now a secure country for the first time in 500 years. We have tried to improve on infrastructures. You can now drive on tarmac road from boarder to boarder”, says Mr. Museveni.

Mr. Museveni observed that tourism is now Uganda’s top foreign exchange earner which has so far earned US$ 1.02 billion with 1.6 million tourists visiting in 2019.

“Tourism sector has the potential to benefit and reach a number of people working in the transport, hotels and hospitality, and beverage industries. The potential is greater today than ever before. We have to market Uganda locally and internationally. The pleasant weather cannot be found anywhere in the world, which fluctuates between 22 degree Celsius to 28 degree Celsius. We should promote Nature and Social tourism”, says Mr. Museveni.

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquity, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu observed that tourism is a fragile industry because and small insecurity or outbreak of disease can affect it negatively.  

Gulu district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi appealed to government to tap on the potential cultural tourist attraction for which the region is endowed and promote the region as a top tourist destination.

“For those who love war, we have a war dance; for rain we dance; we dance during celebrations. Our food variety is the best in the world. We have 54 different cuisines. We have hotels in town. You only have to develop some of the tourist sites in the region”, says Mr. Mapenduzi.

 

 

 

 

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