"If you missed the Big Five in their natural habitat, this Expo has brought them to you in the heart of Kampala city.
KAMPALA - The fourth Tourism Expo was launched Friday, with pomp at the Sheraton Kampala gardens.
The volume of exhibitors has shot to more than 200.
During the launch, destination dealers from across the world were treated to a cocktail of entertainment, including dances.
“While the East African Community meeting is going on at Speak Resort Munyonyo, the tour industry has reason to ululate as they showcase what they have in store,” Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, told guests.
“The contribution tourism has on the economy is huge. According to statistics, one out of ten employed people are in the tourism industry today.”
Minister Kamuntu showed cut a patriotic figure with his colourful cap
The expo activities began over a week ago.
Participants split into groups to comb every nook and cranny of the country. Some guests went to the famed Murchison Falls National Park and others opted for Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
“They converged at the Adventure City of the region in Jinja,” Kamuntu said. “There, they had white water rafting, bungee jumping, zip-lining and lots more.”
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO Steven Asiimwe gasped for breath as he sighed karibu ('you are welcome') to the public and destination buyers.
The fair is a beehive of activity, with all roads in the country leading to Sheraton Hotel.
“Time is our enemy,” summed up Asiimwe. “In this place is a mini zoo. If you missed the Big Five in their natural habitat, this expo has brought them to you in the heart of Kampala city. Come and see the king of the jungle, snakes, leopards and monkeys.”
Guests at the launch of the expo on Friday
The fair is being graced by a variety of service providers promising to offer tiptop services at pocket-friendly rates.
Guests were left on the edges of their seats as cultural dances comprising nankasa, larakaraka and dingi dingi shook the foundation of Sheraton Hotel with thundering feet and drums.
Selfies were taken on board tour vans, near animal cages and with celebrities. Diplomats, celebrities and ordinary people alike are rubbing shoulders as they share the same space.
“This is a reminder of poet Okot P’Bitek’s Heart Beat Of Africa,” commented Vincent Lumu, a guest. “There is such potential waiting to be tapped in sampling our traditional food, intricately woven dresses and norms.”
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