Uganda is a pearl of Africa and the declarations of the natural gifts is not surprising. In fact, what might be surprising is the fact that these revelations are being made today yet the country’s unique natural environment has been around for ages.
Recently, Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide magazine and digital media publisher in the world, chose Uganda as the best tourism destination for 2012. Still, Africa Bird Club voted Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as Africa’s number one birding site. Even more, Uganda’s rich bird diversity, accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s total bird species and 50 per cent of Africa’s bird species population.
This, for instance, means that by visiting Uganda, a tourist would be able to see 50 per cent of the bird species on the entire African continent. But we can also do more to let the world know that over half of the mountain gorillas on earth reside in Uganda with now 400 species in total by the international conservation gorilla programme (ICGP) and other research organizations that undertook the survey this year. And that the source of the world’s longest River-the Nile is right here at home. And the list goes on.
With total annual tourism revenues standing at about $805 million, effective and sustainable marketing campaigns could see this figure easily rise to over $2 billion in a few years. This is the kind of money that we could start getting even before we witness any proceeds from our overly hyped oil resources that is expected to get out of reservoirs leaving part of the park-Murchison falls and wildlife exploited.
Tourism on long run can translate into better healthcare, better infrastructure, reduced unemployment and a better life for Ugandans which is not the case for oil sector that imports expatriates’ to work on behalf of Ugandans.
The well management of tourism industry has the ability to outlast the temporal gush of revenues that accrues from oil production. There is, therefore, every reason for the government to invest in optimizing the potential of the country’s tourism sector.