UK ministers, Dubai investors tipped on Uganda’s tourism potential

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Ministers and legislators in the United Kingdom (UK) have been rallied to travel to Uganda and enjoy its natural beauty ranging from rivers, lakes, mountains, and mountain gorillas call was made by Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari, the chairperson of the NRM Entrepreneurs League while addressing legislators from the UK and Dubai investors in London during UK-Dubai Business Meeting

Hon Rukaari (left) with UK legislators and Dubai investors.

Hon Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari, the chairperson of the NRM Entrepreneurs League, addressed lawmakers from the UK and Dubai investors in London on Wednesday 20th September 2023 and urged them to visit Uganda to experience its natural beauty, which includes rivers, lakes, mountains, and mountain gorillas.

Uganda is host to half the gorillas’ world’s population.

The call was made by Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari, the chairperson of the NRM Entrepreneurs League and MP for Mbarara City North, while addressing legislators from the UK and Dubai investors in London, recently, where he declared Uganda as the best tourism destination in Africa.

“Remember the former UK Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once wrote: “For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly ‘the Pearl of Africa,” Rukaari noted.

“Honourable members, if you want hospitality and tourism, the biggest number of gorillas in the world are found in Uganda,” he told the legislators who had gathered at the House of Commons (Westminster) for the UK-Dubai Business Meeting.

He further reminded them that the world has about 1,063 gorillas and that of these, 457 are found in Uganda. The meeting was chaired by Virendra Sharma, the Ealing Southall MP, with Chris Philp, the policing minister and Croydon South MP, as chief guest.

 The meeting was attended by Uganda’s High Commissioner to UK, Nimisha Madhvani and Jaffer Kapasi, the consul-general of Uganda in UK, based in Leicester.

“We have Lake Victoria, River Nile, mountains, national parks and more so, Ugandans are welcoming,” Rukaari explained. The meeting came at the end of the UK-Uganda Business Summit that took place in London last week.

The 13th edition of the summit, which sought to grow trade between UK and Uganda, was convened under the theme, Unlocking Trade, Investment, and Export Potential.

Information obtained from the Uganda Investment Authority indicates that tourism is a fast-growing sector supported by the fact that Uganda is ranked as a top tourist destination and one of only three countries with about 50% of the world’s known population of endangered mountain gorillas.

 Lonely Planet in 2012 and CNN in 2016, ranked Uganda among the top 16 holiday destinations in the world. Game viewing is the most popular tourist activity in the country’s national parks.

This is because the country has a variety of game, including the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, white rhinoceros and elephants, and it is home to 11% of the world’s bird species, a total of which are 1,060.

It is also blessed with unspoiled scenic beauty, including forests, hills and mountains, rivers, and lakes.

The available opportunities in the tourism sector range from constructing high quality accommodation facilities, operating tour and travel circuits (bicycle tours, air balloon travel, marine activities on Lake Victoria and river rafting on River Nile), development of specialised eco and community tourism facilities and faith-based tourism, such as pilgrimage sites like Uganda Martyrs Namugongo shrines, Mahatma Gandhi statue, and Bishop Hannington landing site.

As the upcoming World Tourism Day approaches on September 27, the minister encouraged Ugandans to actively participate in the run-up events, demonstrating their strong interest in local tourism by exploring various sites over the past two years.

This year’s World Tourism Day celebrations will take place in Hoima city under the theme: Tourism and Green Investment. Given that Uganda’s tourism sector heavily relies on nature and culture, accounting for over 70% of its visitors, the country aims to sustain the industry by prioritising environmental conservation throughout its value chain.

Steadily growing tourist numbers is estimated to have reached 1.5 million per year, contributing 7.7% to Gross Domestic Product.

Hon Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the tourism state minister, said the count of Ugandan nationals visiting various domestic tourist destinations has surpassed pre-COVID levels.

This uptake observed as of July, indicates a positive trend for the tourism sector. Mugarra said Uganda Museum witnessed a particularly astonishing surge in visitors. The museum had maintained an annual attendance ceiling of 55,000 visitors for an extended period prior to covid.

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