By visiting the sites and knowing the country’s tourism sites, the religious leaders will be in position to domestically and internationally market the country.
PIC: Kamuntu flagging off religious leaders on a trip to Murchison falls as a way of promoting domestic tourism industry. Third from left is head of the Born Again churches Joshua Lwere,Deputy Mufti Deputy Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa and other members. (Credit: Wilfred Sanya)
Religious leaders have called for a mass sensitisation of Ugandans on the country's potential as a world class tourism destination.
The leaders who were being flagged off for an in-country tourism visit, yesterday, said most Ugandans live in the same areas where potential tourism sites are located, but cannot see its relevancy until when they are educated on the importance of tourism.
"We need sensitisation for Ugandans to understand tourism. Majority of the people do not know these things," Joshua Were, the overseer of the national fellowship of born-again churches, said.
He told the tourism minister and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) that instead of talking in boardrooms, they need to move out and explain the benefits of preservation of tourist sites to the local communities.
"We are willing to market the country, but we do not have the information. Religious leaders have large congregations, if you give them this information, they will be able to convince them to participate in domestic tourism," he said.
He also said there is need for information on tourism and tourism advertisements to be translated in the local languages for people who are interested in investing in the sector, but are barred by language.
Bishop Herbert Buyondo, who stood in for Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, said they do not know what to say or sell when it comes to tourism in the country due to lack of information about the sites.
Sheikh Muhammed Ali Waiswa, the deputy Mufti, noted that Ugandans too, need to appreciate their country and fight to defend it at all costs.
"Despite the harsh environment in other countries, people there love their country. One cannot mess with their country. If one does so, can be deported immediately, but Ugandans do not know their country," he said.
The religious leaders were today taken on a two-day tour of some of the tourism sites including sites in Busoga and Buganda region. They will visit the Murchison falls, go for a boat cruise and visit national parks.
They will be staying at Pakuba Safari Lodge in Pakwach district, will dine at Kabalega Diner along Gulu-Kampala Highway and will depart for Kampala on May 25, 2018.
Ephraim Kamuntu, the tourism minister, said the tour is to bring the different faiths on board in the marketing of the country's tourism potential.
He said by visiting the sites and knowing the country's tourism sites, the religious leaders will be in position to domestically and internationally market the country.
"We believe that before you tell the world about your country, you should know it. It is good to know how the country is gifted," he said.
He told the religious leaders that after the visit, they should incorporate what they have seen in their sermons and also when they travel out of the country.
Kamuntu said the religious sects should invest in religious tourism and be able to earn from it.
"Tourism is the fastest growing sector in not only Uganda, but the entire world. If you can invest in it, then you can turn around your institutions," he said.
John Ssempebwa, the deputy chief executive officer of UTB, said they need to partner with these religious leaders to promote domestic tourism in the country.
He said this can be done through having their religious meetings at the different sites and marketing the country to foreigners who visit the churches.
Michael Mukhwana, the Provost of All Saints Cathedral, Nakasero, promised that they will be good tourism ambassadors for the country.