By Kalungi Kabuye
DURBAN - It was planned to be a media exchange on how to develop tourism across Africa, but due to the efforts of moderator Richard Quest, Uganda found herself at the centre of the debate at the Global Media Exchange on Day Two of the Indaba Tourism and Travel Festival in Durban.
After presenting the question ‘Why should tourists come to Africa?’ to the panel that included South African economist Mike Schussler, Chairperson of Brand Africa, Thebe Ikalafeng, Head of Destination Marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Trip Advisor, Helena Egan and South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer Thulani Nzima; Quest gave the example of Uganda’s newly enacted Anti-Gay Act as probably being a turn off to tourists.
But Ikalafeng defended Uganda, saying tourists still flock to Dubai despite the different lifestyle that the country demands of its visitors.
“You cannot drink beer in Dubai, you cannot even kiss on the streets otherwise you will go to jail,” Ikalafeng said.
“The tourists know that, and respect the culture of Dubai, why should they treat Africa any different? They come to experience the culture of the destination, not to see and experience what they have in Europe.”
The Uganda stall at the 2014 Indaba Tourism and Travel Festival in Durban. PHOTO/Kalungi Kabuye
Ikalafeng also took exception to his country man Schussler saying South Africa’s main competitor was Africa. He said South Africa, too, was part of Africa and seeing it as different was part of the problem the continent was facing.”
This is the first time Uganda is taking part in the Indaba festival, and being centre of focus in the debate actually increased the number of visitors to the Ugandan stall later that afternoon.
The festival ended on Monday and the tens of thousands of delegates from all over the world that attended left for home on Tuesday.
Uganda at centrestage of Pan African tourism debate