On Friday, Vodafone Uganda hosted tour operators, “Ondaba” social media tourism promoters and the media to a power talk Breakfast meeting at Kampala Serena Hotel. The theme of the meeting was dubbed; “Vodaphone brings us Tourism and Technology”.
Among key speakers were; Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Director Stephen Asiimwe, Great Lakes Safaris President Amos Wekesa and a Pioneer of “Ondaba” tourism promotion on social media Belinda Namutebi.
Asiimwe said UTB has put in place strategies to increase number of tourists visiting the country. He says a total of 18 museums are being developed, in addition to rehabilitating cultural sites to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. “In addition, Uganda currently has over 3000 guest houses and 26 hotels graded by UTB as tourist destinations in the country”, said Asiimwe.
On other Uganda tourist attractions, Asiimwe cited Eastern Uganda; which is gifted with Mt. Elgon National Park, Imabalu traditional dancers, Pian Upe Game reserve, which is just two hours’ drive from Mbale town. He also mentioned of “Bull fighting” sports activities in Bududa, waterfalls at sipi, Sisiyi , Nyero Rocks,Mantheniko and Bokora among others.
On his part, Great Lakes Safaris President Amos Wekesa says Uganda has a big stake in the tourism potential, which should be utilized through on line Marketing and intensified publicity. “Let’s embrace technology for tourism promotion through social media usage”, he said. Wekesa says he started his career as an office messenger with Nile Safaris.
He said he worked for several other companies, before he decided to start his own. “But the year that followed was not easy as business stalled, with no single tourist coming in for about three months. I even contemplated closing the business”, he added Wekesa says his luck struck when he received a phone call from one Tom Carter, an editor with the Washington Times. He says he had written an article about the great tourism opportunities in Uganda and its beauty and also included his phone contact details. “That was the beginning of Great Lakes journey to success”, he pointed out, while encouraging the youth never to lose hope in their endeavors to promote their entrepreneurship projects.
He said Uganda has the largest birds’ species in the world and suggested that if Ugandans promote bird watching tourism, Uganda would be what he termed as a “donor country”
The “Ondaba” group leader, Belinda Namutebi gave the example of “Casa del Turista”, social media platform, which has been able to grow the tourism business, into an international brand on travel sites, through social media. “Little wonder that we are ranked # 1 B&B; on trip adviser and in a few months we have grown our newly established #CasaUgandaSafaris Ltd, as one of Uganda’s fast growing budget safari company..Watch space!!”, she said.