By Mike Ssegawa

September 27, Uganda will celebrate World Tourism Day in the old but tourism endowed township of Jinja. The ministry of tourism however taking the celebrations this year more serious, going ahead to declare the entire month of September, a tourism month.

Uganda has been in the world headlines for the wrong reasons in the past couple of weeks, especially in the aftermath of violence and torture reports of politicians.

The minister of tourism Prof Ephraim Kamuntu has however shaken off allegations that the tour operators were facing cancellations especially from England.

Mr Amos Wekesa of Great lakes safaris, one of the leading tour operators told the media that tourists are cancelling their bookings and demanding a refund of their monies, following the political violence that followed a by election in Arua.

However, Mr John Ssempebwa, the deputy executive director of Uganda Tourism Board, assured the country that on the contrary, more tourists were coming into the country, especially from United States, England and German, where UTB contracted consultants to sell the Ugandan tourism products.

Ssempebwa said that by August, Uganda has already superseded the numbers of tourists coming from those traditional markets for the whole of last year. He explained that with PR consultancies in those markets, the strategy has worked well because the consultants deal with actual tourists.

He said the Uganda market had grown in the US by 27%.

Ssempebwa also announced that the government of Uganda was in the process of contracting agencies to sell Uganda in the markets of India, China and Gulf States, as a way of replicating the success in UK, USA and German.

World tourism day

The minister of tourism and its partners have lined up a number of activities ahead of this year’s world tourism day in Jinja.

The theme of the celebrations is “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”. A statement from the ministry said, “we know that a digitally advanced tourism sector can improve entrepreneurship, inclusion, local community empowerment and efficient resource management”.

It added that “This year’s World Tourism Day will help us to further explore the opportunities provided to tourism by technological advances including big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms.

The guest of honour at this year’s world tourism day is President Yoweri Museveni.