By Innocent Anguyo
An international online survey conducted by The Guardian, one of UK’s leading newspapers, has established that Uganda is a better holiday destination than Spain.
The poll was conducted last week by the online version of the paper, the second most popular UK newspaper website, with a daily average of 2,937,070 browsers.
Answering the poll question “where would you prefer to go on holiday?”, 79% of the respondents said they would rather visit Uganda than head to Spain.
The 79% alluded to Uganda’s beauty, wildlife, scenery, culture, the hospitable people and the landscape from the snowcapped
Mountain Rwenzori to the open savannah, as the lure to the diverse country sitting astride the Equator.
“For perfect weather galore all year round, I would go with Uganda. Before we even get to the physical scenery, being the most ethnically diverse country in the world, each of its people has a rich culture to marvel at. For those who think you can find the same physical features in Spain, there is only one River Nile the last time I checked. Spain is beautiful too, but I think Uganda is a bigger package!” said Concon Berries.
Those who backed Spain said it houses the world’s grandest, most powerful and incomparable architectural treasures, such as the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Some of them argued that Ugandans were homophobic.
Most respondents rubbished talk of Uganda being homophobic as “populist”, “narrow” and “ignorant”. “While people talk about the country being homophobic, it is really just talk. Otherwise, enjoy the boom in arts and culture, poetry, music, drama. The people are friendly. That is no lie,” said Joel Benjamin.
The Guardian conducted the poll after President Yoweri Museveni last week said Uganda is a better tourist destination than Spain.
In an opinion piece published in the New Vision on Wednesday, Museveni criticised tourism officials for merely promoting Uganda as having “only some chimpanzees and so on”. Stephen Asiimwe, the executive director of the Uganda Tourism Board, said they are in the advanced stages of hiring a public relations and marketing firm to promote Uganda in North America, German-speaking countries, the UK and Ireland.
Asimwe termed results of the poll as encouraging, saying it improves Uganda’s visibility. He urged the private sector to take advantage of the publicity to reap from tourism and authorities to plan for the expected surge in visitors and encouraged the Government to invest more in tourism.
Tourism accounts for nearly 8% of Uganda’s gross domestic product. This is not the first time Uganda and Spain have gone head to head in comparison.
In June 2012, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent a text to his finance minister in the midst of negotiations on the terms of a $125b bailout for Spain’s banks. Urging his minister to hold out for a good deal, Rajoy said: “We are the number four power in Europe. Spain is not Uganda.” The remark caused a storm of protest in Uganda and some ironic tweets pointing out Uganda’s economic success.
To establish how the two countries compare, BBC found out that as Uganda grew by 5.2%, Spain recessed by 0.1%. Spain had an unemployment rate of 24% to Uganda’s 4.2%. Spain fared better in life expectancy at birth and per capita income. As Spain exported industrial goods, Uganda exported raw agricultural produce.
BBC based its findings on reports by World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, CIA World Factbook and BBC country profiles.
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Uganda beats Spain in UK tourism poll