At the start of next month, all eyes will be in Northern Uganda as the ‘Explore North’ a domestic tourism drive takes centre stage.
Scheduled for May 30 to June, 3, it will be a beehive of activities as travel enthusiasts quench their thirst with unique and rich experiences that Northern Uganda has to offer including Karuma dam, Murchison Falls, Murchison Falls National Park, Fort Patiko, Aruu Falls as well as the dance, food and history that form a rich cultural experience of the people of Northern Uganda.
Speaking during the launch of the Explore North campaign, the state minister for tourism, Martin Mugarra said this is yet another opportunity to cast the light onto the northern part of the country as one of the ways to encourage domestic tourism, discover new itineraries but also grow the tourism numbers.
“Tourism was the biggest sector prior to Covid brining in the highest amounts of foreign exchange into the country. After Covid, we realized the need to push the drive for marketing Uganda for the domestic market. Such drives like the Explore North will help us increase the numbers of domestic tourists but also help us cast the spotlight onto our tourist attractions. Having Ugandans travel will help us have a more resilient tourism sector,” Mugarra said.
He explained that prior to Covid, the number of Ugandans visiting the local tourism sites were a few but noted this has improved greatly with the latest domestic tourism drives around the country.
“Prior to Covid, the number of Ugandans that were visiting all the tourist sites in the country were around 132,000 but by the end of last year, we had around 890,000 Ugandans visiting the same sites. You can see it is a huge jump and we hope by the end of this year, we hit one million.”
The minister said the drives are not about visiting national parks but rather everything to do with tour and travel.
“We go above game drives with a mixture of food, culture and everything there is to visit. We want to show people that this is their country, they should travel, talk good about it but also know that is employs many Ugandans. It should be supported through travel and visits. First of all you are having fun, learning but above all giving employment to many people who are working in the industry and the local communities,” Mugarra said.
Daniel Irunga, the senior marketing officer at the Uganda Tourism Board said by exploring the different parts of the country of the tourist attracts there in, Uganda’s tourism will be promoted.
“Ugandans love to travel in groups and mostly in one vehicle and have much fun. We are sure this campaign will bring out this culture. Ugandans are social people who want to show to the world how they have traveled and that in a way or the other helps market the country’s tourism. Ugandans also love to travel randomly,” Irunga said.
“We are here to tap into that culture by Ugandans to help us market the country’s tourism destinations.”
The official from UTB said such drives are aimed at supporting the recovery of the tourism sector which was badly battered by the Covid pandemic and was optimistic this target will be achieved.
“By 2024 we expect 100 percent recovery of the sector and campaigns like this will definitely take us to full recovery. Whereas two in every five jobs are in tourism, we look forward to having five in every 10 jobs being in tourism.”
Jose Chameleone influence
According to organisers, singer, Jose Chameleone, comedian Teacher Mpamire and kickboxer, Moses Golola will headline the entertainers during the four-day trip to Northern Uganda.
Chameleone said he is ready for the task.
“I have friends that find during flights and when you ask where they are going, they say they are headed to Kenya to tour yet we have all that Kenya has. It is high time Ugandans started visiting their own country,”Chameleone said.
“I am a big attraction to this country musically but now is the time to attract people to Uganda in terms of tourism. Uganda is a beauty with a lot of attractions for the world to visit and explore.”