Eclipse: Another missed chance

Sunday November 3 2013

The scramble surrounding the much anticipated solar eclipse this afternoon, – expected to be best viewed in northern Uganda, has once again demonstrated the big opportunities Uganda has in tourism but also showed our failings as a nation in the face of these immense opportunities.

More than 30,000 visitors from all over the world, according to official reports, are expected to converge in Nebbi, Arua and Gulu to view this once-in-a-lifetime event. As expected, these places do not have adequate facilities to cater for this number of visitors, meaning many of them will spend the night in tents in open fields.

But that is not a big problem as adventure is part of the allure for tourists.

The lasting positive impact of this event, however, will not lie in the one-day jamboree; rather it will lie in our ability to retain a big number of these tourists in the country a little longer and to make a lasting impression that they will return and recommend many others to come.

To achieve this, there should have been a comprehensive well promoted itinerary on what to do before and after the eclipse. In other words, the eclipse was an opportunity for us to showcase our country beyond the two minutes that tourists will witness the event.

And this should have been promoted internationally by telling the world that the best place to view the eclipse is on the banks or aboard a launch boat on the Nile in Packwach, thus combining the eclipse and the famous River Nile.

But looking at the run-up to the event, one does not notice any linkages made with Uganda’s many natural endowments. Besides, everything was left to the private sector, which has limited resources for advertising.

Had the government put some resources to promoting this event, we could have had more than the 30,000 anticipated visitors and many of them would perhaps have stayed longer.

As it is, we have let another great opportunity pass by essentially because we did not realise in time what a great opportunity it was.

[email protected]: Another missed chance

The scramble surrounding the much anticipated solar eclipse this afternoon, – expected to be best viewed in northern Uganda, has once again demonstrated the big opportunities Uganda has in tourism but also showed our failings as a nation in the face of these immense opportunities.

More than 30,000 visitors from all over the world, according to official reports, are expected to converge in Nebbi, Arua and Gulu to view this once-in-a-lifetime event. As expected, these places do not have adequate facilities to cater for this number of visitors, meaning many of them will spend the night in tents in open fields.

But that is not a big problem as adventure is part of the allure for tourists.

The lasting positive impact of this event, however, will not lie in the one-day jamboree; rather it will lie in our ability to retain a big number of these tourists in the country a little longer and to make a lasting impression that they will return and recommend many others to come.

To achieve this, there should have been a comprehensive well promoted itinerary on what to do before and after the eclipse. In other words, the eclipse was an opportunity for us to showcase our country beyond the two minutes that tourists will witness the event.

And this should have been promoted internationally by telling the world that the best place to view the eclipse is on the banks or aboard a launch boat on the Nile in Packwach, thus combining the eclipse and the famous River Nile.

But looking at the run-up to the event, one does not notice any linkages made with Uganda’s many natural endowments. Besides, everything was left to the private sector, which has limited resources for advertising.

Had the government put some resources to promoting this event, we could have had more than the 30,000 anticipated visitors and many of them would perhaps have stayed longer.

As it is, we have let another great opportunity pass by essentially because we did not realise in time what a great opportunity it was.

[email protected]

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