What you need to know:
- Allende is a man who is fully in in touch and love with nature. He is trying his best to help science and conservationists send message to the world that nature is our mother and must be protected for our own good.
A Mexican TV superstar is set to showcase Uganda’s tourism potential to a new market, Latin America.
Arturo Islas Allende, 33, and best known across Latin America for his passion for wildlife and nature, visited Uganda for a 17-day filming excursion. Allende is the host of a popular TV show, Survivor in Mexico.
He boasts of six-million strong following on Facebook and another six million followers on Tik-tok.
Allende thus enjoys one of the highest number of social media impressions in the Spanish-speaking world, with more than 10 million people accessing his pages and contents. And this is the priceless exposure the Mexican TV superstar has given Uganda this October.
During his stay in Uganda, Allende posted 11 times on Facebook, with the posts attracting more than 180,000 likes.
His only two videos he posted on Facebook about Uganda have so far garnered more than 230,000 views.
That’s just on Facebook, without factoring in the television audience on Azteca TV, and all the other social media sites like Instagram and TikTok.
Uganda needs this positive air because it has been accused by tour operators of not marketing enough to the global market its tourist destinations.
Mr Amos Wekesa, a major tourism industry player, says it is only because of great marketing that Egypt earns $3.6b (about Shs12.7 trillion) from tourism on the Nile alone (pre-Covid). In comparison, Uganda, which is home to source of the Nile, makes only $1.6b (about Shs5.6) from the entire tourism sector (pre-Covid).
It is also no surprise that most African wildlife and nature television programmes are filmed in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
Destinations such as Masai Mara or Serengeti are household names across the world for the same reason.
Both countries market their destinations better than Uganda.
But now, the mountain gorilla is pulling up Uganda on the global map.
Gorilla pulls TV star
When asked how he ended up here, Allende says: “I have always wondered why all African wildlife television shows are filmed almost exclusively in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Then recently, a famous Mexican scientist handed me a book that had a large mountain gorilla on the first page. When I found out that it was found in Uganda, I decided I was coming over to film.
This was Allende’s first visit to Africa. It took him only one week from when he decided to visit Uganda to get on the plane.
“I would have come the very next day if it wasn’t for preparing all the paperwork the team needed to get here,” he says.
“I plan to bring more influencers here because this country is special. I will return here in February for more filming,” he says. “Uganda Wildlife Authority were very professional and very helpful, so I want to return the favour.”
Allende plans to start a project to sponsor Ugandan children to go on trips to see the beauty of their own country, while they learn how to conserve the environment.
His itinerary was run by Back to The Source Tours and Afrik Hub.
That is how much he fell in love with the country on first sight. But he is quick to point out how difficult it is to register and get a Ugandan visa online. “Very hard to get a visa to Uganda. The online place doesn’t work well. You have to keep trying all day, until it works out,” he says.
The nature and environmental activist ran a very tight itinerary. In a duration of 17 days, Arturo had visited the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls, Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth for elephants and lions, Bwindi for mountain gorillas, Lake Mburo, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Mabira Forest, Jinja for water rafting, and the Reptile village Entebbe for pangolins.
“This country is very good. I have fallen in love with it. I started filming right here in the city, you know, with these giant birds [marabou stork] in Kampala. You might think having birds in the city is ordinary, but this is amazing. I have also realised that the people both in the villages and the towns, the average person, are all doing their best to protect the environment,” he says of his impressions of the country.
“The most important thing about an African safari, is nature. It is not its fancy hotels or night clubs or leisure centres. People can go to Las Vegas for that. The people who come to Africa come here for the animals, for nature. This is why conservation is the most important for this country’s tourism,” he says.
Nature is our mother
Allende is a man who is fully in in touch and love with nature. He is trying his best to help science and conservationists send message to the world that nature is our mother and must be protected for our own good. This is the messages that has elevated the young actor from a normal television celebrity in Mexico to true stardom.
In 2017, at 28, the actor created a TV show that was licensed by Televisión Azteca about Mexican animals that were in danger of extinction. The show broke all forecasts and became one of top TV programmes in Mexico within one year of being on the air.
Allende henceforth positioned himself as an authority on the environment.
“Everything we depend on comes from nature. Our food, our clothes, even these phones I am holding are from nature. We must protect nature. I want to spread the message about nature. About conservation,” he says.
“They call me a nature activist but I am a human activist. Without nature humans are nothing,” he adds.