KAMPALA, UGANDA — A group of 40 football fans from the Spanish city of Barcelona visited Uganda in a privately financed safari to experience what the FC Barcelona Legends enjoyed when they toured Uganda last year writes SAM OKWAKOL.

In a press statement sent by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Josep Antoni Roman, one of the organizers of the trip, is quoted to have said "The FC Barcelona Legend's visit inspired this group to visit the Pearl of Africa."

"In collaboration with Trips and Dreams and A.E. Ramassa FC Barcelona, we want to promote Uganda as a tourist destination having learnt about it after the Barcelona Legends visit to Uganda," Josep Romani said.

UTB's Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Asiimwe said, as part of UTB's tourism and promotional campaigns, the Board hopes to give the country great visibility and awareness, locally and internationally through initiatives like these ones.

The government through its agency UTB, hosted the FC Barcelona Legends from the December 8th to 12th, 2015 when it first initiated this campaign.

The overall purpose for flying in and hosting the FC Barcelona Legends was conceived in promoting Uganda's tourism in Spain and the world over

Asiimwe said it is not usual that one gets a return on investment so quickly considering that, it was only in December that Uganda invested in the Legends's visit.

"If each of the 40 tourists spends a minimum of $3500, Uganda will put in at least $140,000, and this is just a beginning," Asiimwe said.

"Sports and tourism are synonymous and many sportsmen are already looking at coming to Uganda for tournaments, promote local talent and promote the destination," he said.

The FC Barcelona Legends greats like Patrick Kluivert, Louis Garcia and Zambrotta, Carles Puyol, Edgar Davids and Ludovic Guily among others, were treated to gorilla tracking, water rafting and to all the tourism endorsement Uganda offers the world.

A football match between the Uganda Cranes and FC Barcelona Legends was played on December 12th, 2015 and was telecast live to millions, if not, billions of people in Uganda, Spain and to the rest of the world. Kluivert even scored a singular goal.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report 2015 underscores travel and tourism as an important economic activity in most countries around the world.

Apart from its direct economic impact, the sector has significant indirect and induced impactsa recent WTTC report states.

For example, WTTC put the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP for Uganda in 2014 at Ush2,762.5 billion contributing (4.3% of GDP). This was forecast to rise by 8.4% to Ush2,994 billion in 2015.

This primarily reflects the economic activity generated by industries such as hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services).

However, it also includes, for example, the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by the influx of foreign visitors.

WTTC estimated the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in Uganda to grow by 6.4% pa to Ush5, 548.1 billon (4.3% of GDP) by 2025. Currently, tourism is Uganda's leading foreign exchange earner.

Source: Sam Okwakol,