Uganda is an averagely small landlocked country in the cradle of East Africa flanked by Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and South Sudan. Although it has seen hard times in the many different aspects of its journey from one of the many British colonies on the continent, Uganda has since developed with even better planning and leadership strategies. Commonly known as the “Pearl of Africa,” there is a spark that Uganda gives off; its not just about the green landscape that goes on for miles and miles, or the beautiful wild animals you find in the thickest of forests in its park but it is in the heart of its culture of the many people and the strong traditions that have kept it strong for centuries even before the British, and other explorers arrived on its shores.
2016 has been a very interesting year when it comes to the Ugandan tourism and hospitality sector with a lot of different highlights occurring through the different quarters. What made the year interesting though, is that there was an expected spike and fall when it came to visits and revenue; but instead the industry actually did well, not exceptionally though.
Through the years, the spark has been dimming slowly due to many politically and economically related issues that arise over time, but still the pearl shone as bright as it could this year. With so much going on,there was time to make sure the world only saw the best of what we are; instead of the worst expectations laid out before us.
The year started with tumultuous elections with headlines that predicted stormy days ahead for the relatively peaceful country; with a lot of grumbling about the outcome and who the rightful president should be. An feeling of tension and uncertainty hang in the air as the world moved on to another election; to another country scandalous enough to sell another headline.
Yet with all that, several campaigns have come up in the country to showcase that Uganda is more than Kony and Idi Amin, that away from our leaders and misgivings you will find a beauty that is always ready to be explored. Ready to receive you with open arms and help you explore the depth of traditions that have stood the test of time and keep you coming back.
At some point in the year, the government sought foreign PR firms to assist with painting a better picture of Uganda to foreigners away from the grim images showed in the press especially in Europe and America. The move was seen by critics as a very pricey mistake and laziness on the part of the bodies in charge. It has been argued that the government could have utilised the resources to push campaigns that make tourism appealing to Uganda who in turn can talk about their country in a positive light. Within the course of 2016, there have been publications from different international media houses showcasing Uganda albeit creating a juxtapose with the negative news they frequently show.
UG Travel Month
The idea to make Ugandans appreciate the country they call home, has been highly put into action this year but no other team put a well executed concept as those in charge of the Ug Travel Month. The concept was to make the whole month of October a tourism month where trips are organised to different sections of the country for over 70 people at a minimal price that covered food, accommodation and activities for a weekend. There were four trips through the whole month with each trip bringing together young people who were excited about learning more about their country. The idea was brought to life with so many memories, and more than four sponsors who together gave the vision of life.
The success of UG Travel Month was enough to encourage even more of the many young people involved to become tourists in their own country.
This campaign was an idea by a number of friends, about traveling through the country and discover new places on a budget. It came to life in 2015 but became bigger within 2016. The year has been good for the group that has been working hard to make sure the trips and ideas get better and accommodating to everyone interested. Throughout 2016, KoiKoi UG has embarked on four group trips; KoiKoi North, KoiKoi East, KoiKoi Islands and the most recent one KoiKoi West. With every trip they have done, there seems something to share all over social media with stories of the people they met. With the success of most of their trips, the KoiKoi UG group has garnered sponsorship from two of the most financially stable companies in Uganda, making them a solid campaign to help Ugandans see and appreciate their own country.
Through the campaigns and different activities that represent Uganda, the tourism sector has had a busy year which included a Hollywood film (The Queen Of Katwe) about a Ugandan, the rolex a Ugandan street delicacy getting many mentions from all over the world. Chances of better campaigns and ideas in the industry seem to be many, since the private sector made its mind to not wait for government backing to execute ideas that help them grow ideas for tourism in Uganda.