At 56, Uganda has come a long way.
It is a country far removed from its atrocity ridden past.
[The country recently celebrated its 56th independence anniversary]
For the past 3 decades, Uganda, in many respects, has experienced upward trajectories of growth, though its overall potential, across the board, remains unrealized.
Many of the country's leading political analysts contend that the upward growth will continue provided Uganda stays on a political straight and narrow, devoid of political violence.
“At 56, opportunities for national and individual growth in Uganda abound,” Vincent Okwalinga, a Political scientist, says.
“There is however still a lot of leeway to be made up. Uganda is a country with a lot of potential and that potential will only be harnessed effectively if vices like corruption are dispensed with."
“Recent incidents of political violence and the cold blooded murders of prominent Ugandans have raised the spectre of insecurity. Any semblance of insecurity will have an adverse knock on effect on our tourism industry, an industry, which is still by far, the nation’s leading foreign exchange earner,” Robert Wamukota, a seasoned Political scientist and opinion leader in Mbale, told Masaaba chronicle.
Notwithstanding, recent reports like the 2018 Africa Risk Reward Index have cast Uganda in good light.
Uganda is cited as one of sub saharan Africa's strongest performing economies.
The report indicates that ongoing national infrastructural projects and other developments in the country would not be possible if there was political instability.
Uganda’s risk profile Index has also reduced significantly, through the years.
This denotes more visitors for the country.
According to the Inform global risk index, Uganda’s risk index is now 6.0.
Inform is a global, open source risk assessment for humanitarian crises and disasters.
That said, analysts say the voices of Ugandans disillusioned with the status quo should not be ignored.
“Ugandans intent on changing the status quo should however steer clear of putting false constructions on the country’s political and economic situation. That as a means to an end is counterproductive,” Wamukota argues.
“It is incumbent upon the government however to address the grievances of all Ugandans.
In many areas of the country, tangible evidence of progress for many citizens remains elusive.”
Analysts state that tourism as a sector will most likely bear the heaviest brunt should the country’s image continue to be tarnished.
At present, the sector contributes 10% to Uganda’s GDP.
“Recent projections by the Minister of Finance that Uganda will in the near future receive 4million visitors annually will only come to pass if the country enhances its tourism industry competiveness and markets itself better abroad,” Okwalinga argues.
Uganda currently gets 1.3 million visitors annually.
The most recent high profile visitors being the African American Hip Hop artist-Kanye West and his wife-Kim Kardashian.
“Uganda needs to invest more resources in its tourism sector,” opines Amos Wekesa, the proprietor of Great Lakes Safaris, Limited.
“Regionally, Uganda is lagging behind yet with 10 unique national parks, principally world heritage sites such as Bwindi, Mgahinga and the Rwenzori mystic mountains, Uganda should be one of the top tourist destinations in East Africa. More also needs to done to improve on tourist infrastructure.”
Uganda is one of the best places to track mountain gorillas.
At present, Uganda is home to half of all mountain Gorillas in the world. 480 out of 880, to be precise.
The economic value of gorilla tourism in Uganda is estimated at up to $34.3million.
The need to promote the country’s tourist sector was again re-emphasized by President Museveni on the [30th September], whilst passing out game rangers in Nwoya district.
The President noted that Uganda can earn more tourist foreign exchange if it efficiently promotes and markets its tourist potential.
Currently, Uganda spends far less on tourism marketing compared to her regional neighbors, yet the second national development plan lists it as a priority sector that will if harnessed well have a great multiplier effect on the country’s economy.
Kenya spends $3.37 on promoting and sustaining its new tourism markets.
Rwanda on the other hand, spends $40million on its tourism advertisement campaigns.
“Marshaled well, Uganda’s cultural and heritage tourism sector represents a potential major area of growth. There are heritage sites around the country, which are in many ways still tourist virgin territory or which have not been developed enough to attract visitors,” John Kityo, a travel and tourist, expert, says.
“Take for example, the Namugongo shrine, the Rwenzori cultural trail and the Mutoto Cultural grounds in Mbale, where the inauguration of the revered Imbalu custom takes place.
Mutoto which attracts up to 1000 foreign visitors biennially is devoid of an Imbalu paraphernalia museum, yet, to all intents and purposes, it should have one.
Construction of a museum at the site has been long overdue.
There are several other cultural and heritage sites in the country which can stand the country in a good stead financially.
“Uganda has 600 years of kingdoms and over 40 different indigenous ethnic groups, who immense themselves in a variety of cultural norms and customs. These can all be of financial benefit to the nation.
Now is the time to amplify efforts to market Uganda as a worthwhile tourist destination. It could be a grain of mustard seed for the country,” Kityo says.
One of Uganda’s greatest tourist secrets are the white sands of Ssese Island on Lake Victoria.
The white sands, the uncrowded beaches and the tranquility of the place create a never ending honeymoon experience.
On Lake Victoria as well, there is the picturesque Equator Island-Lwaji Island. The equator runs through Lwaji and Damba islands.
The two archipelagos are diamonds in the rough. They are marvels of nature, with plenty of bird life.
By all accounts, Uganda is home to over 10% of the world’s birds and 50% of Africa’s birds-home to 1,072 different species including some of the rarest birds.
Some of these can be found on Equator Island.
Jinja, the adventure capital of Uganda-Jinja deserves more promotion and marketing as a leisure travel tourist destination.
Jinja’s overall tourist potential remains unrealized.
With more advertising Jinja, the source of the world’s longest river-6,853km [4,258 miles] will get more visitors.
Whilst in Jinja, visitors can enjoy bungee jumping, quad biking and safe whitewater rafting and kayaking.
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