Uganda named top tourist destination

Tourists enjoy a boat ride on the River Nile, one of the major attractions. PHOTO BY EDGAR BATTE

Uganda has been selected as one of the top 10 international tourist destinations yet again. This was at the first Global Tourist Destination Carnival held in Haikou, the Capital of Hainan Province in People’s Republic of China.

The Carnival, set to be an annual event was organised by China Travel Service, a government of China Organisation for the promotion of Tourism in partnership with Haikou Municipal government and National Geographic Channel, South Korean subscription television channel.

While appearing on KFM Hotseat show on Tuesday, Great Lakes Safaris director, Amos Wekesa said China and more Asian countries were looking at East Africa as a preferred tourism destination.
According to World Bank, China had a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Director, Stephen Asiimwe, explains that the recognition is yet another achievement for Uganda as a preferred tourist destination.

Unique wildlife, nature
“We were specifically recognised in respect of our unique wildlife and nature, culture. We are a peaceful country,” he adds.

Two weeks ago, Uganda won a silver medal at Indaba, one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar.

It showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa’s best tourism products and attracts international buyers and media from across the world. Uganda was last year recognised by CNN as one of 16 global destinations to visit.

Motherland was also recognised at the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) Berlin Conference, world’s largest tourism convention. Uganda is home to the mountain gorilla, great flora and fauna as well as enviable wildlife excursions, cultural heritage, friendly people among other picturesque sites.

The carnival at which Uganda was recognised run from May 1- 5. Uganda was selected in the category of the recommended top international destinations for 2016 alongside Tunisia and Okavanga Delta in Botswana from Africa.
The list also includes South Georgia islands, Greenland, Danube River, Hawai volcanoes National Park, Bhutan, Maldives islands as well as Hokkaido in Japan.

According to Philip Kanyoonzi, who led the team from Uganda embassy, the selection of Uganda as a recommended destination is a very big achievement especially because China today has the most number of travelers to outbound locations that Uganda is set to tap from.

This year alone, CTS indicates that over 400 million Chinese travelers will travel to various locations out of China. Uganda was represented at the event by officials of Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda embassy in Beijing.

According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), by 2023, the Master Plan forecasts an increase in foreign receipts to more than $1.4 billion (about Shs3.8 trillion) per annum, and the creation of more than 150,000 additional tourism jobs. The projection is based on a careful analysis of both internal and external environments of the country.

The recognition comes hot on heels of President Yoweri Museveni meeting stakeholders in the tourism sector at a hand-over ceremony of marketing contracts to three Marketing firms PHG for North America, Kamageo for UK and Ireland, and KPRN for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, that will be representing Uganda in the respective travel markets at a total cost of $1.5million for a year.

According to UTB, the firms were chosen after an international competitive bidding process managed and funded by the World Bank through the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP), coordinated by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).

“Uganda is easy to market. We are an all year round destination with great weather, variety of tourism attractions including mountains with snow all through the year,” a story on UTB’s website states, quoting the President.


Murchison Falls National Park
It is located in Bunyoro and covers 3,893 square kilometres. It is approximately 5hrs drive from Kampala, which account for 305 kilometres. It is home to the shoebills and one can do chimpanzee tracking.
The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which plunges 45m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80km stretch of rapids.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
It is located in South Western Uganda and is home 320 mountain gorillas, half of the world’s gorillas. It has over 400 plant species. It neighbours the Buhoma and Nkuringo communities.
Kidepo Valley National Park
It is located in the semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, in Karamoja.
It is some 700km from Kampala. It ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses and has beautiful savannah landscape. It is home to zebras, tree-climbing lions, jackals, buffalos, among other animals.

Birding in Uganda
Uganda is an ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics such as the Short-tailed Warbler and Blue-headed Sunbird as well as seven IUCN red data listed species, according to Uganda Wildlife Authority. One can bird in Kibale National Park which is home to the African Grey Parrot, among 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks.

Kidepo is another attraction for birders, and so for Lake Mburo National Park, Lutembe Beach area, Kasenge forest in Mukono, among other key places.