Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has entered into a new working relationship with Uganda Golf Union as a way of promoting tourism in Uganda, writes SHARON KYATUSIIMIRE.
Stephen Asiimwe, the Board CEO in a news conference at the head office last week, said games like golf were primary in promoting tourism as they lead to other developments like hotels, clubs and also attract foreigners who bring in foreign earnings.
According to Samantha Shankman an international expert in this special market says golf tourism, is a niche kind of travel, but one that attracts higher spending given the nature of resorts and destinations associated with the sport.
Asiimwe announced the opening of a new course and tournament that was inaugurated over the weekend at the Garuga Golf Club in western Uganda.
It is owned by Musinguzi Garuga, a prominent businessman. The tournament will be in honour of the late Paulo Ngorogoza, a leading visionary son of Kigezi who brought unity among clans in western Uganda.
Asiimwe said Uganda’s tourism was at its peak at the moment and any new innovations from the private sector were appreciated. He pledged support to Musinguzi and any other private entrepreneurs who are willing to partner with them in making the tourism sector a better one.
“As part of tourism product development, UTB is promoting golf as a tourism product across the country and this will enhance the quality, Varity and essence of Uganda as a tourism destination. We believe that Garuga Golf course which has the next second longest airstrip, after Entebbe will boast tourism as golf players will be able to enjoy the game and also enjoy a variety of other tourism attractions that are in the areas.” Asiimwe said.
This is the only 18 hole privately owned golf course in at the centre of the Kigezi tourism circuit. Sources say it has great tourism experiences like tree climbing lions at Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park, tea plantations, gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Lake Bunyonyi, Virunga massive, Mt. Mahavura and Sabinyo, and over 600 bird species.
“For us at Garuga Golf Club, this is a dream come true. We have built a golf club and savannah resort hotel and an airstrip in Kihiihi. We believe this will boost tourism, create jobs and bolster the economy of the region and country. We are grateful for the support from the UTB and the government and I encourage all Ugandans to come up and participate in golf as it has been made easy with different golf courses that are being built in different districts.” Garuga said.
According to the UGU President, Kiwanuka Kiryowa, the Union is excited to have the tournament and is willing to support it.
“Golf and tourism go hand in hand. With golf, tourism is promoted and with tourism, golf has more customers. We will have a lot of international golf players coming in with the development of more golf courses upcountry. We are sure the event is going to raise the profile of the game and the country,” Kiwanuka said.
The U.S. is the fastest-growing destination for golf tour operators in 2013, according to data released by International Association of Golf Tour Operators, the global trade organization for the golf tourism industry.
The organization includes 553 golf tour operators that together control more than 85% of the world’s golf holiday packages with more than $2.2 billion in sales last year.
Other fast growing golf destinations include Portugal, the UAE, Scotland, Morocco, and Ireland however, the global golf tourism industry is doing well worldwide. This year is expected to mark the third consecutive year of golf tour operators’ sales, building on top of more than 20-percent growth over the past two years.
Source : East African Business Week