By Mike Ssegawa
Uganda Tourism Board boss has called for an end to cutting down of forests, which if left unabated will immensely erode Uganda’s tourism competitive edge.
Mr Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer of UTB told the media during a press conference on the upcoming Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2018 that, forests form part of Uganda’s unique flora and fauna; a home to a variety of plant, animal, birds and insect species which attracts thousands of tourists into the country.
Asiimwe was addressing a question from a journalist seeking his reaction on the news feature which appeared on NTV Uganda prime news on Sunday showing how Mabira forest has been destroyed by timber, charcoal and agricultural activities.
“We take strong exception to the illegal cutting down of forests. We call upon those responsible to refrain from these activities,” said the UTB CEO. “Forests are our heritage, catchment areas for water and help make part of our temperature,” he added.
Asiimwe said the continued cutting down of forests also affect Uganda’s weather patterns which form part of Uganda’s tourism package.
Tourism has become a key pillar of Uganda’s economy, fetching the country $1.4 billion a year, up from $400 million 10 years ago. Over 1.4 million tourists arrive in Uganda every year, and the ministry of tourism has an ambitious of attracting four million tourists by 2020.
POATE to boast domestic tourism
The fourth edition of Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2018 will showcase Uganda’s best in wildlife, fauna and flora, culture and cuisine and nightlife.
POATE is an annual tourism event organized by UTB and brings together a showcase of Uganda’s tourism products and services for the international travel trade under one roof.
The expo will be held from 23-25 February at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel Gardens under the theme, ‘rediscover the pearl’.