18 February 2013

Uganda Tourism Monitors Kenya Polls

Kampala — As the election fever grips Kenya, stakeholders in Uganda's tourism sector are readying themselves to reap from traffic that may shift to Uganda in the process.

According Edwin Muzahura, the Head of Marketing and Public Relations at the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Kenya elections will be a blessing in disguise to Uganda as the polls will take all the limelight from tourism thereby shifting traffic to Uganda.

"The last time Kenya went to polls we had a very good season. Traffic shifted to Uganda and we expect it to be the same this time round. As Kenya goes into elections, all media will be focused on the candidates and that is where we should up our efforts in marketing tourism," he said.

He was speaking during a press briefing in Kampala where Ms. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities unveiled a plaque declaring the River Nile as one of Africa's seven natural wonders.

The Seven Natural Wonders of Africa is a concept that was initiated by Dr. Philip Imler and began five years ago.

The seven wonders include Mt. Kilimanjaro - tallest standing mountain in the World, the Nile, Ngorongoro crater (largest crater in the World), Serengeti Migration (famed for animal migration of over 6 million covering over 3000km) all located in East Africa as well as Sahara Desert, Red Sea and Okavango delta.

Uganda has in recent years accumulated numerous accolades that include being announced by Lonely Planet as the 'Best Tourist Destination 2012' as well as the National Geographic Traveler December 2012 Magazine in its 'Grading the Tourist places 2013' put Uganda among the 'Best of the World, Our 20 MUST see places for 2013.'

Mutagamba said that government was working out a policy framework that would map out a clearly spelt out strategy for the management of the River Nile.

"We are in the process of formulating a policy that will see management of the Source of the Nile go into the Central Government. We are also going to improve infrastructure in that area so as to make it attractive to local and international visitors," she said.

In an earlier interview, Dr. Andrew Seguya, the Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said that they were working out a plan that would make Uganda attractive and help in keeping tourists in the country longer.

"The average number of days tourists spend in Uganda is less than two. People are spending less time in Uganda compared to the time they spend in our competitors' countries. We would like the number of days they spend here to be 10 days and in that time we shall enable them visit the various attractions by improving infrastructure," he said.

According to Maria Mutagamba, arrivals in Uganda are now at over 1 million annually with incomes of about $805m.

"We are targeting to get 1.5 million by 2015 and then we shall also liaise with the Ministry of internal affairs so as to enable us get more information on the exact number of people coming in as tourists," she said.

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