A Key Note
Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry
His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
At the 3rd IIPT Global Summit on Peace through Tourism
2nd to 5th October 2005
H.E. Mr Suwat
Liptapanlop Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand,
Mr. Louis D’Amore Founder and President International Institute for
Peace through Tourism,
Mr. Khun Nirun Wattanasartsaton the Mayor of Pattaya City,
H.E. Akel Biltaji Special Advisor to His Majesty King Abdullah II,
The Organisers and Resource Persons,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Permit me to register warm and heart felt greetings from H.E President Museveni and the People of Uganda. H.E. President Museveni is unable to join you this time due to other state engagements. He has however extended an invitation to all of you to come to Uganda for the 2007 convention. He wishes you fruitful deliberations.
I would also like to extend my delegation’s gratitude for the warm hospitality which we have enjoyed ever since we arrived in your beautiful country. We commend the organizers for the wonderful arrangements associated with this conference particularly the excellent hotel conditions.
Ladies and gentlemen, I now want to tell you something about my country and its attractions.
Uganda is located at the equator at the heart of Africa. This area is known as the Great Lakes Region comprising of Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. This region was once characterized by conflicts. In the Last 3Y2 decades, Uganda has gone through internal and external conflicts. We have overcome these internal conflicts and insurgency. We can therefore attest to the fact that Peace is the cornerstone for a vibrant Tourism industry.
Today, we market
East Africa as one common tourist destination because with Kenya and Tanzania
we have formed a Customs Union.
2. The conflicts destabilized human communities, often displacing human communities and affecting their food stocks. This led to indiscriminate hunting and decimation of wildlife. The animals sought refuge in neighboring countries. Jam happy to say this is now behind us.
3. As peace has returned to our country, we have had to secure and rehabilitate our national parks so that the animals can increase their population to previous levels. This is not only expensive but also a slow process. For instance, we have just reintroduced the first batch of rhinos.
4. With the return of peace and tranquility in our country and the region, we are witnessing a phenomenal resurgence of domestic and regional tourism. In the same vein, the numbers of international tourists to our country have grown from near zero under the Idi Amin dictatorship to over half a million last year(2004). We should soon hit the one million figure.
5. These growing numbers of tourists are not coming to see wildlife alone. There is more to the country than wildlife. There is the source of the River Nile and its numerous falls e.g. the Murchison. Associated with these falls is the popular white water rafting sport. Other attractions include the famous snowcapped mountains of the Moon right on the equator which provide a tantalizing challenge to mountaineers. Then there are the misty mountains where one may stare into the eyes of a mountain gorilla. The list of attractions is endless and I invite you to the luncheon tomorrow to view a video showing more of those attractions.
How is tourism
and the increasing number of tourists helping the post-conflict period?
1. In our view tourism has provided us with witnesses to the reconciliation and recovery process which have occurred in our country and the region. As you know tourism is largely promoted by word of mouth by satisfied and appreciative clients.
2. Tourism is providing us with badly-needed revenue to offer services to our people and undertake infrastructural development. It is the leading foreign exchange earner and is expected to account for 9.2% of our GDP in 2006.
3. The greatest threat to peace is poverty and deprivation. Tourism creates jobs, provides income and enhances effective demand within the economy thus helping in the eradication of poverty and deprivation.
4. Community Support: We are witnessing a growing number of international tourists take a direct interest in the economic well-being of local communities. Similarly, our Government has come up with policies for revenue — sharing between local communities and protected areas. This is intended to ensure harmonious relations within the conservation communities on top of improving their livelihood.
The organizers are very clear in their minds over what they expect from this conference i.e. to enhance peace and tourism in the World. What are our own expectations from this conference? As far as Uganda is concerned we share the same objectives like the organizers. However, we would also like the conference to take into account the following:
I This Conference has given us the opportunity to reach a wider audience which can act as our Ambassadors in regard to the attractions Uganda and our region offer.
II We have come
to seek out partnerships and joint ventures between those who are already
developed in tourism and ourselves.
III We are here to lobby you not only to visit us as tourists but also to come and invest in our tourism infrastructure and help us to cope with the growing number of tourists as you make money.
IV Tourism can ensure sustained peace provided the afore-mentional are attended to i.e. wider publicity and promotion of our products, increased investment and the associated employment and incomes for our people.
Once again, we look forward to receiving you anytime you visit our country and when you come for the Peace and Tourism Congress in 2007. A number of international airlines offer direct flights to Uganda i.e. British Airways, Emirates Air, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, SN Brussels, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines etc. We have excellent communication facilities which can keep you in constant contact with your homes.
You are most welcome and thank you for listening to me.