The 2014 list of the most visited cities in the world, compiled by MasterCard and Forbes magazine, is out.
This list shows the number of international arrivals and the amount of money spent during the trip. London, with 18.9 million visitors spending $19.3 billion, is number one. Bangkok, whose numbers have fallen by 11 per cent because of unending leadership disputes, is in number two it expects 16.4 million visitors by close of the year and $13bn in spending.
Paris is number three, with 15.5 million visitors and $17bn. Number four is Singapore (12.4 million visitors and $14.3bn). Dubai, my favourite destination, is now number five, expecting 11.9 million people and $10.9bn from them. Dubai, with 4.8 visitors per resident, has the biggest resident-per-visitor ratio in the world.
New York is number six (11.8 million visitors and $18.5bn), then Istanbul (11.6 million and $9.4bn), Kuala Lumpur (10.8 million and $8.1bn), Hong Kong (8.8 million and $8.3bn), and in number 10 is Seoul (8.6 million visitors and $11.5bn).
In Africa, the most visited city is Johannesburg, expecting 4.3 million visitors and about $3.2bn. A lot of work, creativity and, in some cases, sacrifice, has gone into building these cities to make them most favourable for international visitors. In fact the most visited cities are not those that are gifted by nature. It is cities whose leaders have deliberately built them to attract man.
Take, for example, Dubai everything attractive in this country has been built by the leadership. I think the current Amir, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al- Maktoum, who is UAE vice president and prime minister, is obsessed with making Dubai the world’s number one destination.
Everything he does, he wants it to be the best in the world and I think that is his motivation. From Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, to Dubai mall, I think the biggest in the world, he is now constructing a city in the shape of the world map kilometres into the ocean.
Turkey has aggressively entered into medical tourism and their first target is to beat India. MasterCard, the UK firm that surveys 132 cities every year, now predicts Istanbul will have taken over New York and possibly Dubai by 2016.
Eclipsing New York and probably Dubai is now the country’s 2016 target. What is Uganda’s target? Building Yoweri Museveni into a winning brand so he can defeat everybody and begin a fourth decade in power.
And I tell you a lot of resources – billions of shillings – are being pumped into this project. I mean the sole candidate project. I am now nearly four years into my five-year term in Parliament and have never heard that ministers and MPs are being sent to the field to popularise tourism.
No wonder not many in the country even know that Maria Mutagamba is the minister for Tourism. I asked my fairly-bright 10-year-old son who the minister for tourism is and he had no idea. Yet the same boy tells me about Moses Golola every now and then.
Even where we have a comparative aantage, we are being beaten by sharper people. For example, Uganda has about 40 per cent of the world’s mountain gorillas but Rwanda is aertising herself as number one. Why? Because they have prepared more gorillas for tourists than Uganda. Those wildlife people know what I am talking about.
All that we are marketing is the sole candidate. Just imagine if all the money being wasted on this ‘sole candidate’ was used to build the tallest tower in Africa!
In my senior two in Masaka Secondary School in 1991, I was taught that there were three factors of production – land, labour and capital. I have come to appreciate this commerce even more. The land, we have quite plenty the capital is also available the human resource is our problem.
My wife called me from the bathroom the other day to watch Moses Golola on WBS. This wonderful guy, fearing to run out of steam, retreated to Mabira Forest. It is here that he made a camp. TVs and newspapers showed him taking a container of almost 10 litres of porridge, munching almost 10 kilogrammes of meat on a stick and emerging from a newly-built green grass hideout.
The following day, Golola was on the front page of Daily Monitor munching meat, competing with the sole candidate and John Patrick Amama Mbabazi for space. In one go, the man had aertised himself, Mabira forest and kickboxing.
I must be sincere I didn’t know a thing about kickboxing until this man took our airwaves by storm. Had these been the 1970s, I think the late President Id Amin Dada would by now have made him a minister. Why give Tourism, which is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, to Maria Mutagamba to retire with it?
Robert Kabushenga of New Vision likes promoting events, I will be willing to donate a million shillings for the Golola cause when called upon. Wikipedia describes Golola as a self-made celebrity, entertainer, and kickboxer known for building his brand.
No. Citycountry Visitors Spend:
1. Jo’burg, SAfrica 4m $3.20bn
2. Cape Town, SAfrica 1.5m $2.25bn
3. Cairo, Egypt 1.5m $870m
4. Lagos, Nigeria 1.2m $710m
5. Casablanca, Morocco 0.9m $737m
6. Durban, SAfrica 0.8m $689m
7. Accra, Ghana 0.7m $561m
8. Nairobi, Kenya 0.5m $317m
9. Dakar, Senegal 0.5m $433m
10. Entebbe, Uganda 0.5m $535m
11. Tunis, Tunisia 0.4m $170m
12, Maputo, Mozambique 0.2m $24m
13. Beira, Mozambique 0.1m $2m
The author is Kyadondo East MP.
Source : The Observer