President Yoweri Museveni has described Uganda and Africa as the cradle of humankind and civilization while gly encouraging tourists all over the world to visit the continent.
“Part of Uganda’s tourism problem is poor promotion strategies. Africa has long huge and diverse land mass with snowcapped mountains like Rwenzori, good climate, deserts, the Uganda Martyrs ecetra, but instead of promoting the uniqueness of Africa, we only profile and sell a few chimpanzees,” he said last week.
Museveni was officially opening the 39th World Congress of African Travel Association (ATA) in Kampala.
Museveni said Africa has the best climate in the world, but because of imitation, “Africans imitate western cultures instead of using the comparative aantages they have to attract the world to the continent,” he said.
Museveni directed the Ministry of Tourism and other government agencies to localize names of tourist attractions in Uganda to give them an African trace.
He said they must focus on faith- based tourism citing the 3rd of June of every year when over a million pilgrims from all over the world flock to Namungongo Martyrs’ shrine to commemorate Martyrs’ Day.
“In your marketing tools, show two names of our tourism attractions. There is no reason of calling Lake Victoria, Victoria. Call it Enyanja Nalubaale, Lake Albert (Muttanzigge),” he told the Congress attendees.
The five-day Congress ran under the theme ‘Tourism is Everyone’s Business.’ It attracted local, regional and international delegates involved in the tourism industry worldwide. Most of them are under the umbrella of the ATA.
It was attended by Phyllis Kandie the Kenya Cabinet Secretary, for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Republic of Namibia, Lazaro Nyalandu Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania and Peter Greenberg Travel Editor of CBS News among others.
Participants discussed how Africa can build brands through social media and content marketing, focus on digital and experience marketing and a spotlight on romance travel to Africa.
They debated how diaspora communities abroad can foster travel, tourism and investment, and faith based travelers who constitute a large contingent from United States and Canada to Africa.
ATA was founded in 1975 and registered as non-profit association in the US, headquartered in New York City.
It has branches around the world and has so far signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union with the aim of promoting tourism in Africa.
Museveni confirmed Uganda has finalized plans to construct Kasese International Airport in Western Uganda, to cater for touriststravellers who don’t want to spend long hours on the road.
“When Julius Nyerere constructed Kilimanjaro International Airport in Northern Tanzania, he faced a lot of resistance people were saying he was wasting government money. Today, Kilimanjaro Airport is one of the biggest airports in the region. Soon we’re building Kasese Airport to supplement Entebbe and Gulu airports,” Museveni said.
He said to deal with the ease of travel Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda introduced the single EAC tourist visa. He said culturalAfrican foods are the richest in the world urging the promotional bodies to highlight them.
Edward Bergman, the Executive Director of the African Travel Association said the outbreak of generic diseases like Ebola and Marburg is affecting travel to Africa.
“People in the outside world think Africa is a country. They don’t know that it’s a continent with many countries. When they heard about Ebola outbreak they were restraining themselves from travelling to Africa not the individually affected countries,” Bergman said.
Source : East African Business Week