By Hazel Tendo
Much as almost every sector has faced the wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last three years or so, the tourism sector was been hit the most.
The initial stages of the pandemic outbreak saw a downturn of the returns from the sector as most bookings from tourists were cancelled due to the restrictions of gatherings and traveling.
Since then, the government through the different agencies has been trying cope and attract the tourist numbers back.
And the efforts seem to be paying off! Uganda has continued to attract tourists back to the national parks and other major tourist destinations. Among whom are major celebrities and other high profile individuals from all over the world.
In the past years, it has registered visits from high profile celebrities like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, an American celebrity couple with interests in music, high end designer clothes and reality shows. From the Middle East came Dubai based Khalid Al Ameri and his wife Salama Mohamed who came on a tour and visit to their former house help to attend her wedding.
These have a huge following on social media with most of their uploaded videos on Facebook and other social media platforms hitting over a million views.
During the same period, American singer song writer Akon flew into the country with his wife and a delegation of real estate investors that paid a courtesy visit to the president at the state house, discussing different investment opportunities in the tourism sector and real estate ventures.
The recent addition on the list of the renowned visitors is Ronald Fenty who said that his purpose for visiting Uganda is his desire to see its beauty and endowments.
Ronald Fenty, is the father of renowned Barbadian singer, actress, fashion designer, and businesswoman Robyn Rihanna. Fenty has by now toured a number of tourism sites in Tooro Kingdom and Queen Elizabeth National Park. He has also had discussions with the Tooro King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru IV about potential collaborations in future. “We discussed collaboration in sectors of Tourism, Agriculture and Healthcare. I extended an official invitation to Rihanna to visit Tooro Kingdom,” Oyo said.
The beauty about visits from such high profile individuals is that they move with a lot more people than ordinary tourists, hence spend more. In addition, their celebrity status attracts a huge following of fans and admirers who get to see the details they share about their lives.
This is an opportunity for these fans to have a glimpse of the beauty of Uganda and some do take a further step to visit the country themselves. Uganda as a country has a lot more to offer with the so many tourist attractions from its beautiful scenery, abundant wild life, its amazing culture and so forth.
The government has indeed taken major steps to remove the different bottle necks in the tourism sector, for example improving the road networks to all major national parks. A lot more needs to be down to market the beauty that Uganda is to the rest of the world.
I truly believe that few countries in the world have the beauty and the opportunities that Uganda has. Well researched marketing drives show casing the country will go a long way in unwrapping this hidden pearl to the world.
This would add a little joy to the tourists and investors, and also a little more money to the Ugandan native. Few sectors have returns that can trickle down to the lowest of the lowest Uganda as the tourism sector. We just need to harness these opportunities.