New Vision (Kampala)

18 July 2010

Uganda: Tourism Agency Reassures Visitors

Kampala — The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has reassured tourists and other visitors that the security situation is under control.

"All the tourists' attractions are secure. There is no need to panic," Serapio Rukundo, the tourism and wildlife minister, told a media briefing at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala over the weekend.

"Kampala is safe and the security agencies are on full alert to ensure heightened safety, security and security for all," the minister assured.

He appealed to the media to give a positive image of Uganda, arguing that the terrorist attacks were "meant to scare and discourage visitors."

Rukundo disclosed that the Government's commitment was to maintain Uganda as an attractive and safe country for all.

He called for extra vigilance from the general public and security operatives.

The briefing was also attended by the Airlines Board, the Uganda Tourism Association and the Association of Uganda Tour Operators representatives, who appealed to the Government to invest heavily in the rejuvenation of the country's image after last Sunday night terrorist twin bombs in the capital city.

They challenged the Government to emulate Kenya, which had since the 1998 terrorist attacks, continued to publicise herself within the region and overseas.

"It is too early to say that we have been affected by the bomb attacks. As for Brussels Airline, which I represent, it is 'a No'.

"But I do not know the position of the 13 other association members," Pierre Declerck, the vice-chairman of the Airlines Board, told journalists.

He revealed that they had received various inquiries from their clients globally on the situation in Uganda.

"We are doing our best to encourage our clients.

"This is a good period for us because of the high profile delegates coming in Kampala for the African Union Summit, tourists and Ugandans from the diaspora.

"We must all market the country because we are in business," Declerck urged the stakeholders. He commended the Civil Aviation Authority for ensuring tight security at the airport.

He advised their clients to arrive at the airport an hour before the check-in time because of the long queues due to extra checking.

Amos Wekesa, the president of the Uganda Tourism Association, noted that security directly affects tourism.

"You do not need to sell a bad image outside but regaining a good image lost means investing heavily in marketing and advertising," he pointed out.

Wekesa explained that Kenya and Tanzania set a vote for tourism marketing as soon as they got out of the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

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