Ugandan influencers turned up in big numbers for the Explore West Tourism campaign, which kicked off on Wednesday April 12th and is running until Sunday April 16th, 2023.
Western Uganda is known for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant communities.
Organized by the Ministry of Tourism and its partners, the 5-day event is aimed at boosting local tourism in Western Uganda, especially after the sector being adversely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns.
Ugandan Kickboxer Moses Golola, famous comedians Patrick Salvado, Mad Rat and Chicco, Jjajja Bruce and other influencers are some of the celebrities that kept entertaining the crowds during the various stopovers of the entire trail.
The trail Caravan, which set off from the Uganda Museum in Kampala at 10:00Am on Wednesday, was flagged off by Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the State Minister for Tourism, who was flanked by officials from the various Tourism Ministry Departments and Agencies, Explore Uganda Ambassadors, among other people.
During the launch of the campaign, Minister Bahinduka said Ugandans have appreciated the country’s tourism potential and are now traveling more than the foreigners.
“We believe if this trend continues defiantly, we will be able to sustain this sector,” the Bahinduka said, adding that;
“The campaign that started with Explore East, where Ugandans summited Mountain Elgon and other tourist sites within the region, now heads to the West and I ask Ugandans to turn in large numbers to explore the region.”
“This time around we are encouraging Ugandans to travel with us to share the experience and talk about it when they return. I think Elgon was a very good experience and success and it has inspired us to go on this campaign,” he noted.
He also revealed that; “The reason why the Ministry is concentrating on domestic tourism campaign is because COVID taught us that the only way we can have a resilient tourism sector is to focus on the domestic market. We are seeing the achievements and we want to thank the Ugandans.”
Along the journey, the caravan had stopovers at the Equator in Kayabwe and Lukaya along the Kampala-Masaka highway, from where they continued to Lake Mburo National Park in Mbarara district, on a sightseeing tour of Zebra and the famed long-horned Ankole cattle at Kimihingo Agro Tourism Farm, next to Lake Mburo.
The agro-tourism program at the farm offered tourists a unique opportunity to learn about sustainable cattle breeding practices, blended with the beauty of a rural lifestyle.
From the farm, the tourists continued to Igongo Cultural Centre, where they were treated to an evening full of cultural music acts by artistes based in Western Uganda.
In essence, Day One of the tour was completed in Mbarara District, where the tourists enjoyed a stunning Explore West Night life Experience at Shooters Bar and Grill, where the team also enjoyed live performances by top western Uganda RnB singer Ray G.
On Day Two of the tour, the tourists left Mbarara district and continued to Mugaba Palace, Ankole Tea Estate, Kyambura Gorge, Katunguru Bridge and finally made a grand entry into Queen Elizabeth National Park, where a boat cruise and evening game drives were organized for them.
Day Two was crowned at Queen Elizabeth Park’s Tembo Canteen, where they enjoyed a Camp and Comedy Night and we shall bring you highlights about the rest of the tour in our subsequent reports.
The campaign is expected to head north after the Western Uganda campaign, where they will tour both Murchison Falls National Park and the pristine Kidepo Valley National Park.
It should be noted that unlike previous tourism campaigns which targeted foreign tourists, the focus of the Explore Uganda Tourism Campaign this time round is to target the local market.
Data from Ministry of Tourism indicates that in 2022, Uganda registered 360,000 visitors to national parks, up from 320,000 in 2019 before COVID-19 hit the world, which indicates a huge potential for the sector to grow.
Uganda Wildlife Conservation and Education Centre registered over 400,000 visitors during the same period, and in both cases, it is indicated that majority of the visitors were Ugandans.