World Tourism Day in northern Uganda, Sh1million up for Best School

On 27 September all roads lead to Lira Municipality in northern Uganda where we shall mark the international World Tourism Day. Among the highlights of the events is a sh1million award to the school that best interprets this year´s World Tourism Day theme One Billion Tourists One Billion Opportunities.

The theme highlights the global potential of tourism for socioeconomic development. With more than one billion international tourists now traveling the world each year, tourism has become a powerful and transformative force that is making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people.

The importance of tourism to Uganda is confirmed by the rising earnings from the industry. Last year, Uganda earned US$1.03billion from tourism making it the number one foreign income earner. Over 500,000 Ugandans are employed in the tourism industry and government investment in the sector is growing annually. This figure can only go higher and the impact on the communities greater as more jobs and opportunities open up. And that can only by exploiting all opportunities that come our way be they our culture, people, weather, wildlife, scenery or hospitality.

During events to mark the World Tourism Day, Uganda Tourism Board together with other stakeholders will run a number of events in the region. UTB is running a schools outreach program to promote tourism related knowledge and awareness.

“Classes will be guided in starting up tourism clubs in their schools. There will also be a creativity competition in interpreting the international World Tourism Day theme: One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities. The school judged to have interpreted this best will win a grand prize of sh1,000,000,” says Stephen Asiimwe, the UTB Chief Executive Officer.

“Having our children understand and appreciate the value of tourism first in our communities and nation, and then the world at large, is the only sure way to have a sustainable industry. These children are our future,” he adds.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority is also promoting domestic tourism by giving local a taste of Murchison Falls National Park (see photo), which is only a few kilometres away. For a fee of sh65,000, the people of Lira will take an all expenses (accommodation, fees and meal) safari to the park and return the next day. This will be on 21, 23 and 25.

For those who will not be able to make it, there is still hope. UTB in partnership with the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is holding an animal exhibition at the Lira Golf Course grounds. Basically, the zoo is coming to Lira town!

Other events in the week include a school tourism outreach program by the Uganda Tourism Board, radio talk shows, and tourism cluster meetings to help local businesses set up structures to support tourism businesses. UTB is also holding a competition among schools to choose who best interprets the theme One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities. The winning school will received sh1million prize.

This year’s tourism focus is on the tourism opportunities in northern Uganda. It is important to realize that there is more to tourism than the wildlife and natural features. Businesses have not been left out. An exhibition will run from the 25-27 September with free entrance to both exhibitors and visitors. This is an opportunity to showcase what the Lango sub region has to offer or what it could gain from businesses based in other parts of Uganda.

“Let us work together to maximize the numerous opportunities that tourism offers to drive inclusive economic growth, protect our heritage and promote sustainable development and a life of dignity for all Ugandans,” says Hon. Dr. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

The events in Lira will start on 21 September with the launch of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) safari to encourage locals to visit the Murchison Falls National Park. Those who will not make it to the park will benefit from a wildlife exhibition by the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). The exhibition will be in town at the Lira Golf Course grounds.

Other events will be by partners like the Association of Uganda Tour Operators who will hold a CSR as part of their 20th Anniversary events. They will paint a local school block.

On the D day of 27 September, the main event will be held at the Golf Course grounds. There the Tourism Catalogue and portal will be launched.