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Uganda Tourism Board visits Nigeria, discusses exploring potentials, travel destinations

UGANDA no doubt has ink its name as the Pearl of Africa, given its lush forests, breathtaking waterfalls, untamed savannahs and peaceful lakeshores. Its roads are lined with mango, jackfruit banana trees, and rolling hills which are home to working tea and coffee plantations, while the lakes and rivers flanked by thickets of tall elephant grass makes it Africa’s emerald Eden.

   The greenery juxtaposed with red fertile soil and dense jungles are a wild sanctuary for endangered Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees. This makes it one of only three countries in the world where it is possible to join the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat without fences, and it is home to the highest number of them.

   To market the country’s vast tourism potential and destinations to Nigerians who love to travel, a team from the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) led by its Market Destination Representative, Anthony Ochieng, visited Nigeria. 

   Speaking during a roundtable meeting with select journalists in Lagos, Ochieng said the country is blessed with beautiful scenery, beautiful national parks, wildlife, eco-tourism, mountains, and several other unique tourist attractions.

    “Uganda tourism is steadily growing. It’s a must-visit destination. Some of Africa’s most sought-after species live in Uganda, like the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. Also, 11 per cent of the world’s bird species, including rarely seen birds like the shoebill, are found in Uganda,” he said.

   According to Ochieng, since 1908, when United Kingdom statesman and Prime Minister, Winston Churchill coined the name ‘Pearl of Africa’ to convey the beauty, variety, and natural wealth of the Uganda, it has grown to become one of Africa’s undoubtedly most exciting and coveted travel destination, and proved to be a true high point reel of all that is rare, precious, and beautiful in the continent.    

   He added that the country is also a destination for faith-based tourism, with notable attractions like the Bahai Temple, and the Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo where the faithful died on the order of the King of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga, in 1886.

    “One of the things that we are targeting so much to market is faith-based tourism. In the past, we’ve had pilgrims traveling to Uganda to experience the Uganda Martyrs celebration, which usually takes place on the 3rd of June. And from statistics, Catholics and Anglicans make the major religious stakeholders in Nigeria,” Ochieng stated.

   On his part, Donald Musobozi, another delegate said Nigeria remains a big market in Africa, adding that it was time Africans patronise their own and learn more about various African heritage, which would create more business opportunities among African countries.

   “I feel Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria are like siblings. When you look at the pattern of a Nigerian and a Ugandan, there is not much difference. Talk of nightlife, Ugandans party too. It’s totally the same. And I have also seen a lot of music collaborations among big music artistes from the two countries.”

   According to Musobozi, with a population of 47,729,952 (2023 estimate) and total land mass measuring about 241,038 square kilometers (93,065 square meters), Uganda is landlocked in the East Africa region. 

    “It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south by Tanzania, the south-west by Rwanda, and the north by South Sudan. It is located in the African Great Lakes region, and lies within the Nile basin with a varied but generally modified equatorial climate. 

    “The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. The name of the country came from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. Its language Luganda is widely spoken in Kampala and throughout the country. It is followed by English, which is also the official language since 1962,” he stated. 

    Speaking further, Musobozi said notwithstanding the country’s diverse culture (fourth most culturally diverse country in the world), Uganda is Africa’s third most open country in terms of visa access. 

    “Its citizens are the friendliest, and it also boasts of the continent’s largest music festival and most exciting night life with Kampala serving as the signature hub of night life in the East Africa region. 

   “The vibrant music industry plays a fundamental role in the social and economic lives of the citizens. It is ranked number three in Africa as far as music and entertainment is concerned. The music industry is fully immersed in festivals; hence music festivals like Nyege Nyege – a four-day annual international music fiesta that is held every September. 

    “The festival has been described as the biggest music festival in Africa by attendees and revelers. It gained its name from Swahili word Nyege, which stands for peace, respect, and abundant joy

   Another annual music festival of the country is the Afro Palooza, a two-day music fest that has featured some of Africa’s and global music sensations including Morgan Heritage, Sauti Sol, Rema and numerous Ugandan music artistes.” 

    The team was in Nigeria for the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) Tourism Conference, Annual General Meeting and Awards/Dinner Night held between July 13 and 16 in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.

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