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Financial opportunities unfold as November 3 total eclipse nears

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th August 2013 05:06 PM

“There is something going to happen, something we hear will take place here.” These were the words of one of the local boys in Pakwach district when asked why people are redoing their property and putting up new ones as well as setting up high tensile tents for accommodation.

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“There is something going to happen, something we hear will take place here.” These were the words of one of the local boys in Pakwach district when asked why people are redoing their property and putting up new ones as well as setting up high tensile tents for accommodation.

By David Mugabe
 
“There is something going to happen, something we hear will take place here.” These were the words of one of the local boys in Pakwach district when asked why people are redoing their property and putting up new ones as well as setting up high tensile tents for accommodation. 
 
His words represent the mystery of the occasion on November 3, 2013 when the spectacular total eclipse will descend on Uganda specifically best viewed from West Nile. Because of this event, Uganda will be an exciting part of astrological history because the country lies on the path of a Hybrid Solar Eclipse.
 
A total eclipse occurs when the dark silhouette of the moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible. During the maximum phase of a total eclipse, the sun's disk is completely blocked. 
 
The sun's faint corona is then safely revealed to the naked eye. During any one eclipse, totality occurs at best only in a narrow track on the surface of the Earth.
 
There is a flurry of activity already picking up in West Nile district of Pakwach as the world’s focus will once again turn to Uganda with many cash minting opportunities unfolding.
 
There is a general lack of awareness currently on this historical.
 
Sylvia Kalembe of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)-the lead promotion agency says some tour operators are already selling the package to their clientele as part of this year’s offering.
 
According to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the final event of 2013 is the most interesting eclipse of the year. It is one of the rare hybrid or annular/total eclipses in which some sections of the path are annular while other parts are total. 
 
“However, the November 3 eclipse is even more unique because the central path to begins annular and ends total, Uganda will experience a ‘Total Eclipse’ as part of the overall ‘Hybrid Eclipse’,” says NASA.
 
Packwach district in West Nile has been identified as the best place to spot the eclipse alongside other towns like Arua, Soroti, Gulu and Masindi in Uganda.
 
Opportunities
 
On this one day event several opportunities abound for the country, private businesses, and local community.
 
Reports indicate that over 100 high end paying tourists from only one country Germany have confirmed booking (over $100,000). As momentum picks up to this event that is about 65 days away, more opportunities will emerge. 
 
The 100 high end Germans have reportedly all booked at Kampala Serena Hotel on arrival which indicates that the local hotel industry should blossom from this occasion.
 
For tour operators, Pakwach neighbours Murchison Falls National park which is a great place to view Uganda’s wildlife as well as experience the River Nile rapids.
 
Further up north is the unique Kidepo National Park that is almost undiscovered.
Tony Ofungi, a private tour operator who has been promoting northern Uganda as part his tourism package says he is already designing packages to include Murchison Falls for those who will be going to see the Eclipse.
 
Airlines especially low cost, in-country charters are can also position to fly people direct to West Nile region the almost eight hour drive up north.
 
For the local community, offering West Nile cultural heritage should provide some spin-offs especially the fact that for cultural tourism, guests usually stay a little longer as they tend to integrate and become part of the activity.
 
But analysts say the local community can only benefit if well organized and brought into the bigger picture.
 
The eclipse occurrence is one of Uganda’s rare and unique blessings not found in other countries alongside hosting majority of mountain gorillas and the source of River Nile among others. But this unique tourism attributes continue to face chronic underfunding in marketing that has often denied the country a chance to cash in on them.
 
Seasoned tourist investor and promoter Amos Wekesa estimates that if well marketed, Uganda will host more than 30,000 tourists and potential investors in the three day event in November. 
 
Wekesa as a private investor umbrella body has written to the president requesting that the country spares some resources to promote this special day.
 
“These few seconds of rare darkness caused by the solar eclipse are a great opportunity for Uganda to shine in the world of tourism and International Media. Uganda will be one of the few places in the world where this phenomenon can be viewed,” said Wekesa.
 
But he is frustrated that no single government authority including parliament seems to respond to this grand occasion in which a huge international TV camera pool will descend to Uganda which in itself is an occasion to showcase the country.
 
“We should try to keep them in Uganda for as long as possible, we should mobilise more Ugandans to benefit as much as possible from this occasion,” said Wekesa. Comparatively in Kenya, both government and private tour operators are selling Turkana land with energy as the place to view the eclipse 
 
Wekesa says November 3 and the weeks surrounding that date, have an amazing potential to bring in a significant amount of income into the country. 
 
Available information indicates that on November 14, 2012 when over 40,000 visitors flocked Queensland, Australia and spent $45m while in June, 2001, Zambia attracted 20,000 tourists and in 1999, the UK attracted 400,000 and their economy earned over 4billion pounds in just days.
 
There has however been no central marketing strategy championed by government or any authority including the lead tourism promotion agency like UTB to ensure that the day is well packaged and marketed. 
 
Private operators have asked government to mobilize government and parliament and use the state channels to echo the fact that northern Uganda is free, safe and good for travel.
 

Money making opportunities unfold as November 3 total eclipse nears

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