Excitement filled the Sheraton ballroom on Sunday night as tour operators, personalities, and media practitioners, among other tourism stake holders, emerged winners of the Uganda Tourism Excellence Awards.
The Vice President Edward Ssekandi graced the ceremony, which recognised best tour operators, media practitioners, and other stake holders in the tourism market, at the climax of the just concluded tourism expo.
Among them, Kampala Serena hotel won the award for best luxury hotel, Mutanda Lake Resort for the best mid-range accommodation, Rwanda Development Board for best regional tourism board, and Serena hotels was the best overall exhibitor.
Rwandair for the second time won the award for best airline and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was awarded the best wildlife destination. Mr Amos Wekesa and Ms Lilly Ajarova were winners of the tourism personality awards, while Uganda Wildlife Authority was crowned the best conservation institution.
Mr Wekesa is the Chairman of the Uganda Tourism Association and director of Great Lakes Safaris and Ms Ajarova is the Executive director at Chimpanzee sanctuary and wildlife conservation trust
In his speech, the vice president commended those who were awarded for raising the bar in tourism and the organisers for their efforts in making the expo a success.
“It is gratifying to observe that different sectors are working towards achieving our vision. This event offers an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our achievements by recognising personalities that have been the best of the best,” said Mr Ssekandi.
Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, the state minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, said the Uganda Tourism Excellence Awards were conceived to celebrate tourism and reward excellence in the sector and at the same time create a platform for key sector players in the industry to network.
“We want to ensure preservation of standards in the tourism industry to achieve our target of four million visitors by 2040 from the current 1.5million,” Mr Kiwanda noted.
The Ugandan Embassy in Denmark under the leadership of Mr Kibeedi Zaake was also recognized for its contribution to the tourism sector through their respective activities.
Uganda Tourism Board CEO, Stephen Asiimwe commended the efforts of the Ugandan mission in Denmark praising the commitment of ambassador Kibeedi.
“He (Kibeedi) is committed ambassador who came along to guide the travel writers and tour operators from the Nordic countries during the familiasation tour to various tourism attractions in Uganda. His hands on work should be imitated by others ambassadors " Asiimwe further said that "Uganda’s embassy to Denmark has always come up with various initiatives to promote Uganda tourism in the Nordic countries. "
In May last year the Ugandan Embassy to the Nordic countries kick-started events to have at least 500 people visit Uganda by end of year under the theme “TOUR UGANDA”.
Consequently, a delegation from the Nordic states comprising of tour operators, tour and travel writers, and business owners visited several tourist attractions in the country in November last year on the invitation of Mr Kibeedi Zaake.