Tour operators under their umbrella body, the Association of Uganda Tour Operators [AUTO], have condemned the miss curvy contest endorsed by the state minister for tourism Godfrey Kiwanda, recently.
Unveiling the initiative in Kampala last week, Mr Kiwanda, said a beauty pageant dubbed 'Miss Curvy Uganda' has been launched to select sexy curvaceous women and the finalists will be selected in June.
"We have naturally endowed nice looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don't we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?" Mr Kiwanda wondered, pointing at "a sample" of beautiful women at the press conference yesterday.
Speaking during a press conference at Nakawa on Monday, Mr Everest Kayondo, the association's board chairperson, said Uganda has quite a number of tourism products they can market to the world instead of turning women into tourist attractions.
"The minister's remarks are not only embarrassing to the tourism industry, but also to Uganda as a country. Uganda has quite a number of tourism products that can be marketed to the world. Turning our women into tourist attractions will only be a shameful act," he said.
Mr Kayondo noted: "We all know tourism isn't only about the wild and natural physical features. Other elements like culture can be fully exploited if we want diversity."
Ms Charlotte Kamugisha, a member of the AUTO, described the minister's remarks as absurd to the Ugandan society, saying they remind Ugandans and Africans at large about the ugly past.
"If you say that you are going to parade curvy women as tourist attractions, then that simply means that women are sexual objects. This is entirely not good for the country. Let us hope that the minister will eventually come out and apologize to Ugandans women in particular. We as the tourism fraternity are disappointed with the minister's remarks," he said.
While appearing during NTV Uganda's Fourth Estate on Sunday, minister Kiwanda, defended himself saying that there is nothing wrong with appreciating what we [meaning women] are. "But after appreciating, what one does thereafter is their own business."
Ms Kiwanda noted that the minister of tourism is not the organiser of pageants, but allows individuals to bring in their ideas and see whether to support or not."