Peak season is finally here and tourism stakeholders in Uganda and the rest of east Africa are looking forward to a fruitful season even with the various security setbacks the region has been facing recently. The tourism sector in Uganda is keenly looking out for spill-over effects of security advisories against non-essential travel to Kenya.
According to the Chairman of the Uganda Tour Operators Association, Amos Wekesa, Uganda has been benefiting from a stable Kenya because Kenya has very strategic marketing for its tourism, the kind that Uganda has not quite developed yet.
Uganda has been an add-on destination to Kenya where tourists would visit Kenya for five-six days and spend another two-five days of their booking in Uganda. Tour operators often sell holistic itinerary safaris from Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda.
As of this year, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have a single tourist visa which is meant to ease travel across the 3 countries and promote the region as a tourist destination. While Kenya has its white sand beaches, coastal marvels, magnificent mountains and game parks, Uganda is often visited to catch sight of the rare mountain gorillas so gorillas trekking is very popular, the source of the Nile, and various game parks such as Queen Elizabeth national Park, Bwindi Impenetrable national Park, and many more. Rwanda also has its share of game parks and wildlife reserves. Tanzania which is a popular destination all on its own, boasts of the Serengeti, the Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and many more.
All these sites are reason for tour operators to anticipate and embrace the peak season. There is however a lot of apprehension over tourists cancelling bookings, mostly due to the travel advisories issued recently, and the insecurity in Kenya. The tourist visa which is already lacking in popularity due to the fact that it doesn’t include Tanzania will probably be affected by the advisories against travel to Kenya.
However Stephen Asiimwe, the executive director of the Uganda Tourism Board is more optimistic. He says the peak period for Uganda starts in June and ends in September and so far, the country is doing well since tourists keep coming in. The number of tourist arrivals is actually higher than most tour operators were expecting.
So tourism in Uganda seems to be looking up. Amos Wekesa says that Kenyan investors are crossing the border to Uganda looking for opportunity to invest in the tourism industry in Uganda, because of the belief that Uganda is much safer.
Agnes Akiror Egunyu, the minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife & Heritage, believes it is too early to tell the impact of the travel advisories against Kenya on Uganda. “We will wait and see,” she said in an interview.
We are all waiting to see what happens while we wish East Africa Tourism a very profitable peak season.