By Mike Ssegawa
A journalist colleague Giles Muhame and I, were invited over the ministry of tourism to discuss a couple of things about tourism promotion with the state minister Godfrey Kiwanda.
I had not interacted a lot with Kiwanda in the past save for moments of brief encounters.
Although he has been in parliament for sometime, the man who has come to be famous for declaring local street delicacy baptized “Rolex” a tourist attraction, is a first term minister whose fruits of work you see or feel.
Kiwanda exhibited leadership skills as chairman of the Buganda caucus in the past parliament. He was deputised by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze.
When he was appointed tourism minister, Kiwanda brought local visibility to the ministry which always focuses on promoting Uganda to Europeans and Americans, ahead of Ugandans.
The Rolex controversy announced him to Ugandans, and has not sat into his office to enjoy its air conditioner. Nay! Instead, Kiwanda has found a home in educating himself or showcasing what’s truly Uganda tourism.
The drive Tulambule has showcased parts of the country, largely the regional tourism clusters, and has also started taking his team to the national parks.
“Ugandans are the number one stakeholders in Uganda’s tourism,” he says, adding that his dream is to bring tourism close to Ugandans so that they get to understand that each one of them can organize to benefit from tourism. He says anyone can make a living out of tourism if they choose to.
“We must make visiting parks more fun. Tourists should enjoy spending more time in parks, share experiences with locals, understand their culture,” he says showing us photographs and videos as he and Nambooze took their families to Karamoja during the Christmas break.
Kiwanda says that the Uganda Wildlife Authority will be bringing into the country buses, that will be parking in Kampala to take Ugandans who want to experience national parks at low costs. He said UWA was also bringing safari vans and boats that will be in parks to serve Ugandans.
It was two hours of beneficial conversation. The minister missed plenary in parliament where he is an active front bench member for the meeting. Let’s tour Uganda, the most beautiful country in the world.