By John Agaba
The minister of tourism, Maria Mutagamba, has slammed the chaos and anarchy characterizing Kampala streets lately, saying it does not attract tourists to the country.
This was during the welcome ‘party’ for Barbra Nakitto at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
Nakitto, 22, won the Miss Friendship crown in the recently concluded Miss Tourism International Pageant in Malaysia.
She also came 14th overall in a contest that attracted over 60 girls the world over.
Mutagamba said that the continued street battles and conflicts were killing Uganda’s reputation as a peaceful and friendly country.
With a single visa for all foreigners coming into East Africa, she said the target was to market the region as a single destination.
“But with these things we are seeing on our streets (referring to the Kizza Besingye and Erias Lukwago battles) tourists will come and only stop in Kenya.”
The tourism industry is the second biggest in Uganda, after agriculture, with contributions of over 9.2% to the country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP).
And according to the ministry, Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings from the industry are estimated at $805m, for the last one year.
Apart from the revenue got from tourists, the industry also employs many of Ugandans, said Mutagamba.
She said Ugandans need to engage in practices that promote peace and harmony.
She commended Nakitto for representing Uganda positively, saying: “She was crowned Miss Friendship. And that’s what represents Uganda. We are a peaceful and hospitable country.”
Nakitto, who all this time was flashing a smile, said Uganda needs to conserve its culture, heritage, and environment.
“That is the benefit we have over those developed countries,” she said.
“They are developed. But we have the green and a good climate. We should not take these for granted.”