New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda Named Top Tourist Destination

Uganda is among the top 20 global tourism destinations in the year 2013, according to the National Geographic. The National Geographic is an international travel channel affiliated to the National Geograpic Society.

Unlike the lonely planet, which named Uganda as the best travel destination for 2012, National Geographic listed Uganda among the top "new year's 20 must-see places."

"The pride of Uganda's tourism lies in the undisturbed green nature that welcomes you the moment you land in Uganda whether by air, water, land or any means of transportation," stated the National Geographic.

"Getting out of the city will be a rewarding experience with a variety of bird species, wildlife, and the rare mountain gorillas that have been 'a hot cake' to Uganda."

This comes in the wake of tourism accolades being lavished on Uganda and also challenges such as protests under the banner of "walk to work" by opposition leaders.

National Geographic recommends a number of books and documentaries to watch about Uganda including gifted by nature and The Last King of Scotland.

Abiaz Rwamwiri, a tourism expert with Africa Wildlife Foundation said, "We have a lot of potential we are not tapping into and this is what the recommendation by the National Geographic is telling Ugandans."

He also explained that Uganda has got a beautiful scenery, unique wildlife such as the Mountain gorillas and easy to visit or stay because of the hospitality of the people."

He added, "We have got much more because there is even Kidepo National Park, which is a unique destination, but is still undiscovered by tourists."

A lot is known about Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth National Park, according to Rwamwiri, but Kidepo is unique and truly wild yet not many tourist visit northern Uganda. He said this was going to improve with the implementation a new programme funded by USAID and Africa Wildlife Foundation.

Rwamwiri said the international community is continuously pointing out the immense opportunity that remains untapped, which we should harness.

"We need to do much more and streamline the standards, hotels, guides," advised Rwamwiri. "Who is a tour guide? Some of these cheat people and others offer services that are below standard."

In a separate interview, Lillian Nsubuga, the Public Relations Manager of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said Uganda's tourism industry is gaining visibility, but aggressive marketing is needed.

"As UWA there has been a big campaign to participate in the international world travel market. So, many people know about Uganda, but we need more aggressiveness," said Nsubuga adding that marketing efforts undertaken by private sector should be harmonised with Government initiatives.

Herbert Byaruhanga, the head of Uganda Safari Guides Association told New Vision that Uganda is becoming a preferred destination globally and this means more employment and income is going to come from the tourism destination.

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