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The organisers of the East African Tourism & Hospitality Expo (EATHE 2019) cordially invites tourism professionals and stakeholders to the East African Tourism and Hospitality Expo Cocktail Party scheduled for June 28, 2019.

The cocktail get-together is expected to serve as an avenue for a sharing of knowledge among true experts in various field of the tourism industry in a relaxed environment with keynote addresses to be presented by a number of tourism industry stakeholders and industry speakers from the East Africa region.

All key tourism stakeholders such as hoteliers, tour operators and many others are cordially invited to attend the event which will commence at 18:30hrs on Friday June 28 at the MaasaLand Safari and Lodge Arusha, Tanzania.

Entrance is Free!

For enquiries and RSVP kindly contact: sales@mikonospeakers.com

Reed Exhibitions South Africa has made three changes to the personnel on its travel, tourism and sports portfolio. The appointments were made following the World Travel Market Africa (WTM Africa) and International Luxury Travel Market Africa (ILTM Africa) and in the lead up to the FIBO Global Fitness Africa’s Trade Summit and Health, Fitness and Wellness Festival

Megan Oberholzer assumes the role of portfolio director: travel, tourism and sports portfolio from her previous GM role in the same space. Martin Hiller – formerly GM for FIBO Global Fitness Africa – assumes the GM for the travel, tourism and sports portfolio role. Reante Naidoo has been promoted to marketing and hosted buyer GM for the travel, tourism and sports portfolio.

Source: BizCommunity.com

All is set for the 2019 Balafon Awards of excellence in tourism across the West African region as the organisers are set to honoured this year’s worthy winners at the fifth Accra Weizo taking place June 28-29, in Accra, Ghana.

The 2019 Accra Weizo is jointly organised by Akwaaba Travel Market and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). Last year, at the World Travel Market (WTM London), the GTA signed a 5 year MOU with Akwaaba Travel Market to effect a bigger and better Accra Weizo.

Below is the list of the 2019 Balafon Awards winners:

  • Travel Personality of the Year in West AfricaChief Allen Onyeama (AirPeace)
  • Tourism Man of the Year in West AfricaOtunba Segun Runsewe – DG, Nigeria Council For Art and Culture
  • Aviation Man of the Year in West AfricaCaptain Solomon Quianoo (Ghana)
  • Hotel Personality of the Year in West AfricaAmaechi Ndili – Golden Tulip West Africa
  • Best Airline in West Africa – African World Airline (AWA)
  • Best Hotel in West AfricaKempinski Goldcoast City Hotel
  • Best Airport in West Africa (for government agencies) Kotoka International Airport, Ghana
  • Best Ground Handling Company in West AfricaSkyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL)
  • Best Tourism Marketing Agency in West AfricaGhana Tourism Authority
  • Best Tourism Event of the Year in West AfricaCarnival Calabar, Nigeria

Top twenty (20) Conference centers in West Africa

  • Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana
  • Kempinski Goldcoast City Hotel, Ghana
  • La Palm Royal Beach, Accra, Ghana.
  • Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Labadi Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Alisa Hotel North ridge, Ghana.
  • Abuja International Conference Centre , Nigeria
  • Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Abuja Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Eko Hotel & Suites Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • The Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Muson Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • King Fahd Palace Hotel, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Salle de conference, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Kairaba Beach Hotel, Gambia
  • Coral Beach, Brufut, Gambia.
  • Palais des Congress, Cotonou, Benin.
  • Hotel du 2 Fevrier, Lome Togo.
  • Sofitel Abidjan Hotel I’voire, Abidjan
  • Hotel President, Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

EATHE 2019 is an important opportunity for stakeholders in the sector to meet and discuss opportunities and common challenges at a policy level and it all kicked off at the EATHE 2019 Floor opening, which took place on 22nd March, Friday at 5h20 in the auditorium of the Four Point by Sheraton.

The opening address was by the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Dr. Hamisi Andrea Kigwangalla, Mr. Deogratius Kilawe chairman of EATHE 2019 and Leona Lemomo, the CEO of Msafiri Tours. Present were delegates from airline companies, hotels, travel companies, the Open University of Tanzania, National Tourism College, ZATI and others.

Mikono Speakers was honored to host the honorable Minister for the first time in its events. He officially launched the registration for both Buyers and Exhibitors of the 3rd edition for East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo. Since he took office thenumber of tourist has grown from 1.1m per annum to 1.5m and he expects the number to increase to 2 million by 2019.

During his opening remark the Minister stated that the future of tourism in Tanzania is lie on three things. First, increasing the use of Artificial Itelligence (AI), this ease the experience for travelers all the way from flight and hotel bookings to assisting the country to know the number of tourist in the country at any given time. Second, empowering local people to benefit from Tourism.The ultimate benefit reaches local people through social services and from selling local products to tourists e.g. Cultural items, food etc. Third, diversification of tourism services and products e.g. conferences and soccer.

“To increase the number of tourist in Tanzania we need to focus on bidding international events. Tourism is not about leisure only, these events bring a lot of tourist at par. South Korea has been doing well in tourism because they bid number of events around the world and so far they control 30% of majors events and this is the main reason they have number of tourist in their country.” Said Deogratius Kilawe, Chairman of EATHE 2019.

Leona Lemomo the CEO of MSafiri travels who has been in the industry for over ten years added that “the major challenge facing the industry that needs to be solved will boost the growth of the industry in the Country is to open the Southern circuit to increase accessibility to local and international tourists.

According to the 2018 BMI report on Tourism in Tanzania, the industry is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, contributing 5% of gross domestic product (GDP), 30 percent of service exports, and 235 million jobs. Indeed, each year, approximately 1 billion people travel internationally. By 2030, consumer spending on tourism, hospitality, and recreation in Africa is projected to reach about $261.77 billion, $137.87 billion more than in 2015.

From 1998 to 2015, service exports, including of “industries without smokestacks” such as tourism, have grown about six times faster than merchandise exports in Africa. Africa’s travel and tourism industry continues to record impressive growth over the years. In 2017, the continent hit a 63 million high in international tourist arrivals as compared to 58 M in 2016 (+ 9% vs 2016).

Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals is 5%. Europe’s share is 51%, Asia and the Pacific 24%, Americas 16% and the Middle East 4% respectively. Results were driven by the continued recovery in Tunisia and Morocco and strong performance in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Zimbabwe. Island destinations Seychelles, Cape Verde and Reunion recorded double-digit growth in arrivals.

The African economy has been gaining momentum, with the real output growth estimated to have increased by 3.8% in 2017 and expected to reach 4.1% by 2018/2019. Travel and tourism contributed a total of 8.1% to Africa’s GDP (USD 177.6 bn) in 2017. This percentage is expected to rise by 3.7% (to reach 12%) in 2018. Moreover, the direct contribution to the GDP stood at 3.3% in 2017.

The industry is also a major employer in the continent, supporting over 22 million jobs in 2017, approximately 6.5% of total employment. These include jobs directly & indirectly supported by the industry, and are expected to rise by 3.1% in 2018 to 23 million jobs.

Rise of international hotel brands is a key factor in the growth of the hospitality industry. Pipeline activity of 76,322 rooms in 418 hotels (with over 100 brands across Africa) have been reported in 2018. Of these, 47,679 rooms in 298 hotels are in Sub Saharan Africa, while North Africa recorded 28,643 rooms in 120 hotels.

In 2016, around 670 hotels and establishments were present in Tanzania, and we forecast robust growth in hotel numbers in the medium-to-long term, with the number of hotels and establishments expected to reach 830 in 2021.

Total overnight stays are expected to increase by 6.9% in 2017, reaching 14.0mn, with steady growth expected through to 2021. The average length of stay will remain stable, at around 9.6 nights, throughout the forecast period.

“We expect 2019 to have more than 2 Million tourists. Tanzania and Africa is vibrant melting pot for tourism: the diverse cultures, customs and traditions of our people, merged with the endless variety of our landscapes, blended with our unique biodiversity, tempered by our historical legacy, and fired by the spirit of freedom and equality, ” said the Minister.

However, he noted that if we are to be successful, everyone needs to pay more attention to the image and reputation of East Africa. “Not only through effective marketing, but by putting on a really great show when tourists arrive like Urithi Festival which is very important to give experience to tourists. Their word of mouth will do marketing for us and using social media begins the minute they arrive on our shores.”

The Minister adds that the East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 provides the ideal platform for African countries to work together. “A successful EATHE 2019 contributes to the success of tourism in all countries.”

Mr Kilawe added that, “Kilimanjaro is honored and privileged to host the Continent’s biggest tourism event in Africa. EATHE 2019 allows Kilimanjaro to be competitive in the tourism sector and brings the city a direct Tsh 2 billion revenue and an indirect longer term income of Tsh 50 Billion.”

East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 will have 2,300 meetings from 22nd – 24th November 2019, 400 exhibitors, 700 buyers and 144 media. Owned by Mikono Speaker, East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and services.

The event attracts quality buyers from across South Africa, the African continent and the world and is co-located with World Embassy Festival 2019, Kilimanjaro Festival 2019 and Africa Food and Drink Expo 2019. EATHE 2019 will impart key stakeholders with realistic strategic plans that will play a major role in shaping the future of tourism in Tanzania.

GROUP identifies opportunities to innovate in new and existing markets as it consolidates is presence across the continent

Accor, a world-leading augmented hospitality group, is fast-tracking its development plans in Africa, leveraging its expanded portfolio to consolidate its leadership position in North and West Africa, and achieve rapid growth in Sub Saharan and East Africa.

With the industry’s most dynamic portfolio of brands, covering every market segment from economy to luxury and comprising innovative lifestyle concepts, branded residences and extended-stay models, the Group is taking a leading role in Africa’s evolving hospitality landscape.

Accor commands the largest market share in terms of keys, with more than 26,500 rooms across over 156 properties in 23 countries continent-wide and a pipeline of 54 hotels with over 10,386 rooms.

The Group is on track to open 35 hotels in Africa by 2020, and has set a target of signing between 15 to 20 projects each year between now and 2025.  This strategy is bolstered by the recent Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts acquisition, a 50% stake in South Africa’s Mantis Group, plus its creation of a joint US$1 billion investment fund with Katara Hospitality, based in Qatar, dedicated to hospitality projects in select Sub-Saharan African countries.

“Our expanded portfolio of more than 30 brands across the entire market spectrum – economy, mid-scale, upscale, luxury and high-end luxury – is a catalyst for growth in Africa; it means we have a range of hospitality options  for every project in every destination across the continent,” said Mark Willis, Chief Executive Officer, Middle East & Africa for Accor.

“Our brand offering, combined with our unparalleled market expertise, puts us in a strong position to meet our key development goals, namely consolidating our leadership position in North Africa and accelerating development in East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

He added: “This will be achieved by maximizing opportunities for recent brand additions, including lifestyle concepts; identifying markets for branded residences and extended-stay projects – a segment in its relative infancy in Africa; and capitalizing on the success of existing brands such as ibis, Novotel, Pullman, Sofitel and Fairmont, to name a few.”

“Our brand offering, combined with our unparalleled market expertise, puts us in a strong position to meet our key development goals.

Mark Willis

Target growth markets include Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa; Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa; and Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, with a view to operating both stand-alone and multiple properties in one location such as mixed-use projects – the current focus of infrastructure development plans in many African locations. In North Africa, the Group is looking to pioneer hospitality concepts that are new to the market, with Fairmont branded residences already developed in Marrakesh and two more planned for Rabat and Taghazout, north of Agadir. The development team is also eyeing prospects for lifestyle brands in Morocco and Tunisia, both considered mature hotel markets, as well as in South Africa.

Accor is proving a trailblazer of extended-stay concepts in Africa too,recently announcing plans to debut its first Pullman Living property globally in Ghana. Pullman Accra will be a dual hospitality offering in the premium segment, with 149 serviced apartments under the Pullman Living brand and a hotel with 214 rooms and suites.

Pullman is an upscale brand that caters to demand from Africa’s fast-growing middle-class demographic, as is Mövenpick, which has strong presence in North Africa and will open its 17 property in the region this year – MövenpickSfax, Tunisia. Its Africa pipeline spans North, West and East Africa, with two new hotels scheduled to launch in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire) in 2020. The Mantis brand, which specializes in high-end eco-escapes and lifestyle resorts, will significantly ramp up Accor’s presence in South Africa where it will open two new projectsthis year, as well as in East Africa, with new properties in Rwanda and Zambia also launching in 2019.

African Travel Quarterly (ATQ), has released the list of winners of the 2019 edition of the prestigious Balafon Awards who will be honoured at the 5th Accra Weizo scheduled for June 2019.

The Balafon Awards of Excellence is annually organized as part of the West African travel and tourism fair, Accra Weizo, to recognize leading industry players within the ECOWAS region. This year, the focus of the Balafon Awards is on the leading and best conference facilities in West Africa. Winners in the various categories were selected from a list of nominations which ended on June 3, 2019.

The 5th Accra Weizo is a collaborative venture between its initiators, Akwaaba Travel Market and Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). Last year, at the World Travel Market (WTM London), the GTA signed a 5 year MOU with Akwaaba Travel Market to effect a bigger and better Accra Weizo. Prior to the MOU, the tourism expo had been organized for the past four years by Akwaaba Travel Market. The event is scheduled for June 28th and 29th.

Earlier in Accra this week, the GTA and stakeholders launched the 2019 Women In Tourism Summit along with Accra Weizo. The summit which is in its second year, has as its theme: Empowering Women in Ghana’s Tourism Industry. It is scheduled for June 27, preceding Accra Weizo which takes place on June 28 and 29.

Deputy Executive Director (Finance & Administration) of the GTA, Isaac Adomako–Mensah, said both the summit and fair have become part of the major events to promote tourism in the country since their inception. He noted that the fair was geared towards getting West Africans to cooperate with each other, while creating a seamless travel environment in the region by bringing together travel professionals to network in Accra.

The GTA will host delegates on a 3-day familiarization tour of the Greater Accra, Western and Central regions from June 25 to 27. Some of the places to see include Nzulezu, Ankasa Conservation Area, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Secondi European Town, and the Cape Coast Castle.

2019 BALAFON Awards Winners (West African Travel & Tourism)

  • Travel Personality of the Year in West AfricaChief Allen Onyeama (AirPeace)
  • Tourism Man of the Year in West AfricaOtunba Segun Runsewe- DG, Nigeria Council For Art and Culture
  • Aviation Man of the Year in West AfricaCaptain Solomon Quianoo (Ghana)
  • Hotel Personality of the Year in West AfricaAmaechi Ndili – Golden Tulip West Africa
  • Best Airline in West Africa – African World Airline (AWA)
  • Best Hotel in West AfricaKempinski Goldcoast City Hotel
  • Best Airport in West Africa (for government agencies) Kotoka International Airport, Ghana
  • Best Ground Handling Company in West AfricaSkyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL)
  • Best Tourism Marketing Agency in West AfricaGhana Tourism Authority
  • Best Tourism Event of the Year in West AfricaCarnival Calabar, Nigeria

Top twenty (20) Conference centers in West Africa

  • Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana
  • Kempinski Goldcoast City Hotel, Ghana
  • La Palm Royal Beach, Accra, Ghana.
  • Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Labadi Hotel, Accra, Ghana
  • Alisa Hotel North ridge, Ghana.
  • Abuja International Conference Centre , Nigeria
  • Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Abuja Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Eko Hotel & Suites Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • The Landmark Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Muson Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
  • King Fahd Palace Hotel, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Salle de conference, Dakar, Senegal.
  • Kairaba Beach Hotel, Gambia
  • Coral Beach, Brufut, Gambia.
  • Palais des Congress, Cotonou, Benin.
  • Hotel du 2 Fevrier, Lome Togo.
  • Sofitel Abidjan Hotel I’voire, Abidjan
  • Hotel President, Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

Sourced from ATQNews.com

The fifth edition of the Swahili International Tourism Expo (S!TE) will be held from 18th to 20th of October 2019 at Mlimani City Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania‘s commercial capital.

Speaking at a press conference today in Dar es Salaam, the Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist board (TTB), Ms. Devota Mdachi said that unlike last year, S!TE 2019 is expected to attract 250 exhibitors and more than 400 hosted buyers and journalists from different countries such as: USA, Italy, UK, Russia, Germany, China, Singapore, Uganda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya, Sweden, South Korea, Malaysia, India and South Africa, just to mention a few.

She called for government and private institutions to support the expo by extending sponsorship in different categories so as to make it a success.

Source: TTB Instagram page

  • Chinese visitors up over 100% & international visitors up 20%
  • Massive potential of Saudi Arabia’s new ‘White Oil’ recognised
  • Travel & tourism technology now beyond disruption, say experts

This year’s Arabian Travel Market witnessed a 106% increase in visitors from China and a 20% increase in international visitors to the event, which was held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 28 April – 1 May 2019.

ATM has grown to become the largest event of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world with visitor numbers smashing through the 28,000 mark for the third year in succession.

This year’s event showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia, witnessing an 8% YoY increase in total floor space, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka being the largest exhibitors.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “The continued growth of ATM is testament to the continued strength of the travel and tourism industry in the Middle East.

“It not only brings together travel and tourism professionals from around the globe to discuss the potential of the regional outbound market, where GCC tourists spend over six times the global average.

“In addition, it draws major inbound players, eager to capitalize on the huge amount of investment that is being put into the region’s tourism infrastructure, including its airlines, resorts, attractions and facilities.”

The 2019 edition, which placed a spotlight on cutting-edge technology and innovation, boasted more than 400 main stand holders with over 100 new exhibitors making their debut. The number of countries represented at ATM 2019 totalled over 150.

Identifying the top tourism trends showing the greatest growth potential is one of the most valuable insights ATM has to offer, and this year’s event was no different as it launched Arabian Travel Week – an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows.

ATM 2019 formed part of the inaugural Arabian Travel Week, as well as ILTM Arabia, CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – a new route development forum which launched this year and new consumer-led event ATM Holiday Shopper which kicked off proceedings on Saturday 27th April.

ATM 2019 got underway with the ‘Arabia China Tourism Forum’. With the overall number of outbound tourists from China projected to hit 224 million by 2022, according to research conducted by Colliers International, the session explored how Gulf states can boost Chinese visitor numbers by catering to the younger travellers arriving from the Far East.

An expert panel revealed that unique and tech-enabled experiences represent a key component when it comes to convincing younger Chinese travellers to visit the GCC. Panellists noted that China’s free independent travellers (FITs) are looking for attractions that are not available in other markets.

Terry von Bibra, GM Europe, Alibaba Group, said: “Smaller groups [of Chinese travellers] are going to new places to discover and have unique experiences – special experiences that they can share with friends on social media, which is very important.

Another of the highlights from the Global Stage was an informative discussion on the potential benefits and pitfalls of technology implementation in the Middle East’s tourism sector.

Panel discussion titled ‘The Big Picture – Who Will Sell Travel Best in the Future?’ revealed gulf-based travel and hospitality companies that use disruptive technologies to boost personlisation and remove friction for customers are likely to become future market leaders.

While innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and personalisation technology have the potential to boost efficiency across the industry, panellists emphasised that operators should always consider how new applications are likely to impact the customer experience.

Fouad Talaat, Regional Manager of Partner Services – MEA, Booking.com, said: “Some of us think we’re in an era of disruption but I think we’ve passed that already. I think we’re in an era of powerful customers.

“We think of ourselves as a customer-first AI company. This means that the application of any new technology is introduced to enhance the experience for our customers.”

New to ATM 2019, focused seminar ‘Why Tourism is Saudi’s New ‘White Oil’, was one of many other sessions on the Global Stage. With Kingdom-based industries in direct contact with tourists expected to generate more than US $25 billion this year, an expert panel discussed the opportunities related to upcoming tourism-focused developments and visa reforms.

The development of new projects such as The Red Sea Project and Qiddiya, both of which are completely reinventing destinations, and the creation of local attractions thanks to the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program and the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) as well as the roll-out of 30-day Umrah Plus Visas, eVisas and specialists visas for events, the Kingdom looks set to attract more tourists than ever before.

Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO, Dur Hospitality, said: “We’ve been in the hospitality sector for 42 years and we’ve never seen anything like this. What’s happening now is earth shattering. The change of mindset in terms of opening up this country for visitors – whether for religious or general tourism – is definitely something to be celebrated.” For more information about ATM 2020, visit: https://arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.

The former President of the National Association Of tour Operators of Nigeria (NATOP), Mrs Fatima Garbati died yesterday in Ife, Osun State following an unsuccessful operation at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ife.

Fatima Garbati crossed over to the tourism industry from aviation where she served with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Industry. She represented Nigeria internationally on several platforms, particularly as the chairperson of IATA investigating panel for 10 (ten) years, representing English speaking West Africa as well as Nigeria at the ‘Yamoussoukro Decision’ meetings until 1995.

Mrs. Garbati was a founding member of NATOP back in 1993. She was honored among the Top 100 African Women in Tourism at the Akwaaba: African Travel Market in 2017.


Her body left Ife earlier today for Lagos and her remains will be interred at the Ebony Vaults besides the Ikoyi Passport Office, Lagos.

Stephen Rwangyezi is an arts, heritage and culture champion. He founded the Ndere Troupe in 1984 and over the years, the troupe has metamorphosed into the Ndere Cultural Centre, a must visit place whenever you are in Kampala, Uganda, particularly if you love wholesome cultural entertainment. Here, we bring you the concluding part of our chat with Mr. Rwangyezi…

*****

I think we need to emphasize what does not exist elsewhere. The piano, the guitar, they do exist where they were made and probably those people play them a million times better. The reason why a tourist comes to Uganda is because he wants to see what he could not see in his home in America, in Zürich, in Iceland. So, we need to do more research because the cultural arts are only in the heads and memories of the old men and old women who are fast dying off. We need to do proper research. We need to be true to these arts, to learn them correctly – not just superficially putting them there for tourist impression. But to be honest to these arts to be authentic, but also to bear in mind that Africa is not frozen in a historical museum!

Africa is growing and therefore to allow the young and creative minds of the contemporary times to develop new arts, but develop upright. Let them know the rhythm patterns, the melodic structures, the scales that the different peoples of Uganda use. And from there, once they have learnt it correctly, apply their own creativity and develop new arts but which have the DNA of Uganda’s culture. At the moment, if you hear the music and dance of the young men, if you don’t know the language they’re singing or rapping, you wouldn’t tell if that music is from Australia, or somewhere in Brooklyn in America, or in any other country – because the beat, the rhythms, the melodic structures are not based on the indigenous arts. So my wish would be: Get the correct research. Do the correct teaching, so that those who develop will use that vocabulary, that alphabet, that vernacular and create new arts.

PEARL OF AFRICA TOURISM EXPO (POATE)

First of all, the fact that this expo came here is in itself a success, because Uganda has been through hell. There was a time when no one dared come to Uganda. Up to now, if you go to some places, they will ask you about Idi Amin. They think Idi Amin is still here. When I was asked to act in the Idi Amin film, The Last King of Scotland, the people that we’re acting with – Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, etc., – when they were coming, they were really scared. They thought Idi Amin was still here – and they were also scared thinking that we as Ugandans would not be able to enact that story because they thought it has impacted on us so badly and they didn’t want to disturb our raw wounds. So the fact that this expo was held here is a plus. It’s an indication that Uganda has moved on from the unfortunate history, and we are actually making good use of that history.

Secondly, like again, in one of the scenes I liked in that movie, The Last King of Scotland, was at the very beginning when Doctor Garrigan, a new graduate from medical school turns the globe and then points a finger and says “Wherever I touch is where I’ll go.” The first time, he touches Canada and says, “Canada? Hmm… No.” And then spins again and – Uganda. “Uganda? I’ll go.” That pointer of Dr. Garrigan to Uganda is like beaming a light on Uganda. Now, this particular expo is another beaming of light on Uganda. So I think those two are a sign of success. But rather than praising ourselves about the success, I think we should be looking at what should be the lesson from this. The world has trusted us. People have come from all over the world, held the expo here and have gone back to talk about Uganda, to market Uganda.

The challenge for us is when these people go and market, the participants of the expo go and market Uganda, and say “This is a beautiful destination” when guests come, what are they going to find in Uganda that they cannot find elsewhere? Why should people come here? That’s where the cultural aspect of our lives becomes very crucial – because you can see a mountain in Switzerland. You can see gorillas in Congo, or you can take a gorilla in a zoo in the United States. Why should someone come to Uganda, to see the gorilla in Uganda? It should be the life of the people and that’s where for me, I feel humbled that this expo came here to Ndere Centre to watch the performance, and that we are the leading body that promotes this Ugandan identity of culture. The challenge therefore is to make it better, to stay true to it, to make sure that the visitors that are going to come to Uganda – I’m pretty sure that with the success of this expo, numbers will grow up – and I’ll love that when they come they find even better facilities, better explanation, more unique Ugandan characteristics that they will not be able to find elsewhere. So for me, the expo was a beamer on Uganda. We have to ensure that we don’t disappoint those who participated and those who will promote Uganda.

Settling down for an evening of good food and wholesome entertainment…

RECOMMENDATIONS

Uganda Tourism Board is an arm of government. Government is the super-structure that is entrusted with the custody of everything Ugandan. My request to them is what makes us Ugandan? What are those things that make us Uniquely Ugandan? Let’s put our resources, our efforts, to the development of those aspects of Uganda that make us uniquely Ugandan. As far as I’m concerned, it’s those cultural inheritance that we did not inherit from our parents, but borrowed from our children. Our children have a right – and the children of our children have a right – to find what Uganda was endowed with. Let’s first forget about tourism. Let’s look inward – that the children of my children have a right to find what my ancestor left – and find it in better condition. Because, if you borrow money from a person, you have two duties: one, return it; but also put interest. So, if we take the concept that we borrowed this from our children, then we have a duty to preserve it and an obligation to make it better – that’s the interest. So government must invest in the preservation of our cultural heritage. It’s not right to leave it to private entrepreneurs like us, because at the moment I am committed to it, but other people will be committed to profits, and if prostituting the culture is what will pay, they will prostitute it. So, it’s the duty of government to invest in the preservation and development of our culture. So that those of us who are practising it can be cushioned by government investment, and therefore be able to continue doing the authentic things and not prostituting it, because we are looking for what sells quickly in order to earn money that we should survive on. There must be investment in the preservation. There must be embedment of cultural values in the education systems.