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UGANDA REJECTS NEGATIVE US TRAVEL ADVISORY

The tourism and business community have described travel advisory issued Wednesday citing terrorist threats as counterproductive to the country and the global travel industry.

In a press interview Uganda Tourism Board chief executive Stephen Asiimwe franked by Amos Wekesa protested both the advisory saying that such information is detrimental to the country’s economy. 

“Terrorism is global, this is not a Ugandan issue, we have been victims but it should not be the responsibility of a foreign country (like U.S. and U.K.) to splash negative messages about us. The world is run by perceptions not facts and the advisory will affect many businesses like: tourism, hotels, transport, even British Airways and KLM will be hurt because everybody who has booked will cancel,” lamented Asiimwe.

Hours after the UK, US advisory to their citizens about an imminent attack on Kampala, Uganda Police boss Gen Kale Kayihura yesterday said, “ police together with sister agencies have taken measures to ensure security and safety of the city and the country against this and other terror plans. I have no doubt that with the vigilance of the public and the time tested effectiveness of our security forces we shall defeat them again.”

By close of business yesterday, the private sector were also coalescing to meet under the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to engage the U.S. and U.K. government over what they consider a stereotype and patronizing attitude that hurts businesses and continues to deny the country the opportunity to create jobs for its citizenry.

Amos Wekesa, tourism investor and UTB board member urged the Ugandan citizenry to develop a more positive outlook for their country.

“Those countries that have grown have citizens who are proactive and look at their strength and sell it to the world,” said Wekesa.

 

Uganda is safe and best place to visit- UTB

David Mugabe of the  New Vision spoke to Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of UTB and Amos Wekesa, private investor on the negative advisory and why Uganda remains a top travel destination. Below are excerpts of the interview with

Stephen, despite the advisory why would a foreigner or tourist visit Uganda now? 


This is the best time to come to Uganda. It is a safe and beautiful country, best weather and heritage. It is a place where you will have a lifetime experience because we have world class activities. Our tourism facilities and experiences are pristine, natural and not cluttered like other places. This is the best time to come, the dollar has appreciated and the traveller gets more value and experience when they come.

We encourage people to come visit. It is a good place to do business and has good infrastructure and ICT. We have very many foreigners living in Uganda. Many students from all over Africa, at all levels of education, people don’t just come for tourism, they come for business as well. 


Question and answer session with Amos Wekesa

Amos, how many foreign tourists  say U.S. and Europe are visiting Uganda?

Tourism is the fastest growing sector in Uganda at 21% per annum. We have moved from 200,000 in 2002 to 1.4m arrivals. European tourists to Uganda are now 120,000 with majority from the U.K. from 43,000 a few years ago. Germany is at 11,000. It is important to note that our American arrivals are also growing, we had National Football League (NFL) players, Forest Whittaker just recently. Uganda has got international accolades from CCN, Lonely Planet among others as the best destination.

Was the advisory by the U.S. about an eminent attack warranted?

We have a security system that operates 24 hours a day, they are well equipped. There is no reason why a travel advisory should be given by another country. We have put in place a tourism police. UTB takes very serious concern about the travel advisory without due recourse on its impact and implications. This is an unfortunate statement from our brothers. We implore and ask that this travel advisory be removed. Our security forces have been doing what they do best.

Amos, your take on the advisory


A Belgian T.V. did a survey on the safest cities in Africa and Kampala came top. If there is anything I can credit government for is putting together a formidable security force. We now export security to Somalia, South Sudan to ensure regional security.

But terrorism is real, we should be taking more vigilance, isn’t it?

This is not a Ugandan issue, it is universal, for us we have been victims but it should not be the responsibility of foreign country to splash negative messages about us. The world is run by perceptions not facts and the advisory is a negative perception index. It will hurt British Airways, KLM because everybody who has booked will cancel. This advisory cuts across a value chain, for every tourist who cancels, 20 jobs are lost- craft sellers, internet, newspapers, fuel dealers, foods and beverages. 

Amos, what about the negativity sometimes among the citizenry?


We all have a responsibility over our country Uganda. We should be able to understand that the more we are proud of Uganda and portray it the more the benefits for us all. Those countries that have grown have citizens who are proactive

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