By Dr Francis Runumi

Finally, the drowsy sleeping giant, the Tourism Sector in Uganda, is getting on its knees to stand up, straighten up, and make strides forward.

The political leadership of the sector and to a great extent the technical leadership at the Ministry of Tourism, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Tourism Board, and Tourism Clusters, are putting the national act together.

Thanks all for the relentless efforts you are exerting to take Uganda where it should be or should have been years back.  Better late than never.

Special thanks go to Hon (Godfrey) Kiwanda, the Tourism state minister for the erstwhile packages that have been given low prominence he has launched. In culinary tourism I remember going and paying dearly for the tea ceremony in a Beijing Restaurant, similarly when we visited a restaurant in Bangkok for a frog legs frying evening. It was memorable fun. Eating Snail and wild rat in Gamawa state, northern Nigeria, before Boko Haram created chaos was also memorable moment with the Igwes.  So Kiwanda branding Rolex here in Uganda you were spot on.

We need you in Kabale to launch our ‘Enturire ‘ drink. This is our big time traditional drink when all about it are assembled right.

At Hotel Africana at the weekend, Hon. Kiwanda again launched another exciting and reawakening event: Tulambule.

All countries making serious tourism money have targeted local residents, domestic tourism, but Uganda has mostly looked outside our borders for guests.

This has been wrong.

Projections show current levels of tourists in the range of 0.5 million half of whom are domestic and the figure projected to become 5 million by 2030, majority being domestic.  This is excellent.

The launch of Tulambule was timely.

Last weekend Kabale alsohad a serious work to do to pick Miss Tourism Kigezi.  This was big time stuff punctuated by display of traditional stuff…cultural dances and food.

A bit of imported wildlife display and other niceties.  A pat on the back for organisers.

Uganda’s qualification for Afcon after 38 years has been a long wait. Our name being sang in the coming Afcon season is big time publicity potentially helping us to rake tourism money. Cranes, we salute you.

Our neighbours in Rwanda the other day had the famous function of naming the Gorilla in Northern Rwanda.  I forget the name. But UWA fully represented Uganda.  A lot to learn from our neighbours. Did you know that 54% of the remaining mountain Gorillas on Earth are in Kigezi? But the publicity gives Rwanda prominence on Gorillas. Congo has its share but is still in slumber land. Did you know that smart Kenyans have prominently used our Gorillas to up their tourism sales and put them at the tail end of guest itineraries? Smart boys. We worked hard to get the Pope here.  They asked him to pass by for a few hours.  But do you know all Cameras and publicity prominently showed Pope in Kenya.  Zuckerberg coming to Africa was basically to Nigeria.  Kenyans did same trick. Publicity shows Zuckerberg visit to Kenya in Africa.  I am glad we’ve picked a lesson and one of the prominent filming companies is in Bwindi and Kisoro making a documentary of our hidden tourism potential. That’s the way. Lake Mutanda finally will show up.

It is good The Annual Gorilla Festival event is in its final stages of planning.  Prof Ephraim Kamuntu and Company at the Ministry. We are waiting to receive you in the South Western tourism sector. Some friends of mine abroad are itching to fly in for this event.  We should give our neighbours a run for their money as the Kigezi wananchi wake up to the marvels of the endangered mountain Gorilla. Can’t wait to dance my bums off in the festival.  Rubuguri would be an ideal venue. Rubuguri oyeee.

Herbert Byaruhanga, I see you ably representing us in South Africa at the birding expo. Tell them the birds are here especially in the Lake Victoria basin and Bwindi circuit.  But they are everywhere in Uganda to be sincere.

DESTINATION ENTEBBE will crown the tourism packages.  This Entebbe place is amazing.  Not only is it a gateway to Uganda but exhibits cardinal historical sites for Buganda, the Catholic faith, the State, wildlife both Fauna and Flora. We are working out an air show for civilian and military planes, our 16 pristine beaches including Lutembe beach not only will provide you the sands, clean water, and fish but a variety of Migratory birds. Wow. Hmmm then we have the zoo…A condensed National park. An 18 hole oldest Golf course is with us. Hotels…The biggest and smallest hotel in Uganda are here. In total Entebbe boasts of more than 480 hotel rooms. Fish… cooked…roasted…fried, are all here. It is up to your wallet and stomach. There are many things in Entebbe.  I regularly get a troop of more than 30 velvet monkeys in my compound.  They have even learnt to pose for pictures.  We talk banana language when they see me. ‘Mbweeenu’ Uganda is very Good.

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Dr. Runumi is the Commissioner Health Services in charge of planning department. He is Tourism enthusiast.

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