The biographical film “Queen of Katwe” about Chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi is going to be released this September in cinemas around the world. The film which stars Oscar award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo plus Ugandan child actress Madinah Nalwanga is a big deal for Uganda.The film is under Walt Disney, a company that is in charge of some of the highest box office grossing films in years.Before the hype about the film started and the fact that Lupita was involved, very few knew who Phiona Mutesi is to the Chess world; a young girl from an impoverished situation who went on to become a Chess Master.
So what does this film mean for Uganda and her tourism sector? Do we find a way to capitalise on it? Do we read between the lines and see what message it brings out for the rest of the world to see? The best part about this, is that the film is going to give Uganda free worldwide publicity that is beyond Hollywood’s stereotypical view of “Idi Amin’s Uganda.” Hopefully, people will now see that beyond this little landlocked country, there is a lot for it to offer and not just gorillas and the source of the Nile.
It should shine a light on an enterprise that has long been neglected only to be remembered when the world sees its benefits and awards it, Sports Tourism.
Sports tourism, or more correctly, Sport Tourism, refers to travel which involves either observing or participating in a sporting event staying apart from their usual environment. Sport tourism is a fast-growing sector of the global travel industry and equates to $7.68 billion. (via Wikipedia) In Uganda, many youths have started eyeing the sporting industry with hopes of their talent being discovered due to people like Dorcus Inzikuri and Stephen Kiprotich who have inspired them to push on with their dreams.
Away from running track, boxing and soccer; there are several young people with dreams of being World Chess Masters like Miss Mutesi, but they are not accorded the support they need to make it; yet they dream on and work hard on their dream.
Tournaments such as rugby, golf, basketball and cross country bike sports activities should be on top of the list when it comes to promoting the sports tourism of Uganda. There are over several different sports tournaments held throughout the year in Uganda and out of all those, football and rugby are the most promoted.
Is this because the football fraternity has more means than the rest? Or because it’s viewed as the one with the most returns for the promoters? Can we build solely on football or we can branch out and elevate the other talents of the general sports fraternity?
Sports tourism includes the several activities that our tourism economy benefits from such as; water rafting, kayaking and bungee jumping that happen around the falls in Jinja and Murchisons. There are several other locations that would be very suitable for such activities but due to lack of proper promotion from the people in charge, they seem to be missing out on making it big in the industry; so they lie dormant and underappreciated from what they can bring to the table.
If concerned stakeholders gave more support to the sports fraternity and several different sectors of our tourism sector, would we have more “Mutesis?” Talented young people that have a dream to shine for their country with the gifts that they have been given?
Would we have more visitors in the dormant areas that would make a wonderful tourist attraction? We do not know, till we try.