The doors of tourism have been opened in Uganda, after months of being shut down to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Uganda’s doors of tourism have mainly been opened to wildlife and ecotourism, which has caused excitement among tourists, hence giving hope to many who had made their bookings before the outbreak of the coronavirus and a ban on international travel.
Regarding the New Vision (26 July 2020),260 tourists who had made bookings before the country’s lockdown, have already reported at Katungulu entry point of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda after the announcement by Government, on Wednesday.
“Visitors have started coming and tourists are excited at the re-opening of our gates,” the tourism minister, Tom Butime said.
It was noted that he made these remarks on Thursday evening while he welcomed a team of European Union(EU) ambassadors and other delegates, who visited Enjojo Lodge at Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National park in Kanungu district. Enjojo Lodge is under the Enjojo Wildlife Foundation, which is owned by Krist Debref.
The visit was meant to send a message to the rest of the world, specifically the home countries of the EU, that Uganda had opened its doors to tourists. The delegates who were led by the EU head of the mission, Atillio Pacifici, who arrived at the site(Enjojo Lodge)from Kampala for a four day-day visit to the area.
The other delegates on the team were Dr.Roswitha Kremser (head of the office of the Austrian embassy), Rudi Veestraeten (Belgium), Jules-Armand Aniambossou (France), Janos Tereny (charge de affairs of Hungary)and Massimiliano Mazzanti (Italian Ambassador to Uganda).
Many tourists come to Uganda to have an adventure in the national parks, together with its natural beauty and animals in the park. Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for its assortment of wildlife which includes tree-climbing lions, hippos, Uganda cobs, elephants, leopard among others. It is also gifted with a rich ecosystem, ranging from savannah to forests, lakes and wetlands hence attracting many tourists to come to the country.
The Tourism Minister also noted that many Ugandans had planned to visit the park but were stopped by the outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide and a country lockdown.
Butime said, ”Those who had booked and are here in Uganda can now go to the parks. We are working hard to see that the airport is opened so that other tourists who had booked, can come.”
He also said that the country is expected to ensure that all tourists follow the health ministry guidelines that have been put in place to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The minister also mentioned that fact that Government has already intervened to help the tourism sector and also ensure to assist hotel owners and encourage domestic tourism. The members in the tourism sector are also hopeful of receiving more tourists especially the foreigners when the airport is opened.
“There is already an intervention from the government to assist the tourism sector, especially the hotel owners, but we shall have to encourage domestic tourism and when the airport is opened, we hope to receive foreigners as well,” he said.
Uganda relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange, hence with the lockdown and Covid-19 outbreak, hopes were shattered. Annually, the country earns $1.2billion (approximately 4 trillion Ug shs) from tourism and anticipation was made to earn $3billion (10 trillion Ug shs)by 2025 annually.
Based on the meeting with delegates of the EU, some issues were raised as per the tourism sector like the ranger post which has suffered the case of intruders, and also caution the proposed construction of a dam at Murchison falls, construction of wide roads and sugar plantations in parks.
With some of the above-raised concerns, the EU has agreed to aid some of them to help the country with its tourism sector, and also help to recover the country’s economy, since Uganda has done well in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
This brings good news to Ugandan who had lost hope on visiting the national parks due to the on-going pandemic, hope has been restored unto you. Start making your bookings.