By Isaac Baligema
THE Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is optimistic that Pope Francis’ visit later this month will spur the country and influence its position in the hierarchy of the faith-based tourism countries in the world.
According the UTB’s Chief Executive Officer Steven Asiimwe, the Uganda Martyrs are the one product that, if developed and marketed effectively, can push Uganda up into the top five faith-based tourist countries in the world.
“Tourism can only grow if we have more products, develop and market them effectively. With the forthcoming Papal visit and the billions being spent to develop the martyrs’ sites; we believe that Uganda will climb the faith-based tourism hierarchy and join Israel, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Jordan who are the top four faith-based tourist countries in the world and our focus is to ensure this country takes up the fifth spot,” explained Asiimwe.
According to a source, the Pope will move with over 200 journalists from various international media houses and Asiimwe says that UTB will use the visit to effectively market Uganda’s tourism potential to the world.
Uganda Martyrs attract over two million local and international tourists every year in June for the celebrations but Asiimwe is of the view that Uganda can do better given that background as far as faith-based tourism is concerned.
“All these people who come to the country every June for the Martyrs’ Day celebrations are a big force to push and boost Uganda’s faith-based tourism capacity and I am happy that the government and the private sector has come out wholeheartedly to invest in the sites at Namugono and Munyonyo,” Asiimwe said.
Pope Francis will arrive in the country on Friday November 27 for a two-day visit before flying to war-torn Central Africa Republic.
Meanwhile, UTB has organized the inaugural annual Uganda-International Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo that will attract over 28 countries for the four-day event that will among others showcase Uganda’s tourism potential.
“On top of the expo, UTB is flying in ex-Barcelona players who will be taken around various tourist sites like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls, among others in a move to let the world what Uganda has to offer as far as tourism is concerned,” said Asiimwe.
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Pope visit to drive faith-based tourism