KAMPALA - Tourism has become an important sector in Uganda and a great contributor to foreign exchange, employment, and investment in the recent past. There has been increased investment in tourism, particularly in accommodation and related facilities to enhance tourists’ experiences in the country.

The sector has become the second foreign exchange contributor after remittances from abroad. Statistics provided by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that the sector fetched US$805m (about Shs2trillion) as of August yet more was to be explored.

Gifted incredibly

Uganda prides in its diverse and unique range of nature-based attractions like the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage sites, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda Wildlife Educational Centre,which has majority of animals enclosed in a naturalistic setting, together with fascinating indigenous culture and tradition.

Tourism is also driven by the friendly and hospitable nature of Ugandans,unique religious sites, highly unspoiled and unexplored environment, delicious organic food and drink and good climate among others.

The country has over 3,200 tourism sites although efforts are underway to classify them for better tourism promotion according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Different government agencies mandated to promote tourism have in the recent years mounted rigorous promotion campaigns through the media. Road shows, local, regional and international tourism fairs, programme and activity sponsorship and public relations campaigns have also been a big feature in the recent past as the sector has grown.

Other activities include e-marketing, organising and participating in local regional and international events, creating promotional materials like brochures, magazines and DVDs, organising familiarisation tours, establishment of tourism offices in major source markets and developing a domestic tourism promotion strategy that has created awareness on tourism and increased visitor numbers in the country.

Uganda Tourism Board Executive Director, Cuthbert Baguma Balinda, says the organisation recognises tourism as a primary growth sector. Uganda is a unique tourism destination basing on accolades it has won.

The accolades include but are not limited to the recent one by Lonely Planet, an independent online magazine owned by the BBC that designated Uganda number one tourism destination 2012 and others from National Geographic.

Daily Monitor