By Andrew Irumba & Monica Kobusiinge
Fort portal: Tourism actors in Uganda gathered in Fort Portal Tourism city on Sunday to celebrate World Tourism Day, which is celebrated every September 27.
This year’s celebration was themed “Tourism and Rural Development”, with the national focus on fostering awareness of the unique tourism opportunities available in the different parts of Uganda.
The event that took place at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal was officially presided over by the King of Tooro, Rukirabasaija Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV as the chief guest.
Inline with the Health Ministry-instituted Standard Operating Procedures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, only a few people were invited for the event.
The Minister for tourism and antiquities Tom Butime who was in attendance revealed that this year’s event marked the silver jubilee celebration of the reign of King Oyo of Tooro Kingdom, “this is part of the motivation that persuaded us to celebrate the event in Fort Portal and also recognize the new status of Fort Portal as a tourism city.”
He added, “We are celebrating our own attractions and calling upon Ugandans to travel and experience the pearl of Africa.”
Tooro Kingdom tourism Minister Joan Kantu said the monarchy is endowed with good weather, food, the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, crater lakes, hospitable people, national parks, among other things.
“Make people appreciate the culture we have to offer more than the wild animals and nature and involve rural communities in appreciating our culture, education at grassroots must prepare for this” Kantu said.
“We need an industrial institute of our own in this Kingdom, save our water bodies and have a school of excellence in hospitality management to equip our youth,” she added
In the same vein, Herbert Byaruhanga, the vice-chairman of Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), called for re-packaging of tourism programmes to attract more visitors in this region.
“We need to make sure that people who work in this area as guides are qualified and well trained,” he said, adding that there should also be annual events like festivals held in Fort Portal to attract more visitors.
“We would like to have an event of the Kings of Uganda and those in other countries coming here. We want to see all of them come here and drive the numbers of visitors,” Byaruhanga said. And promised to have the Africa birding event in Fort Portal.
Alex Ruhunda, the Member of Parliament Fort portal Municipally now Fort Portal Tourism city who also attended the event said that he is thrilled to see the government led by Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni fulfilling the dream of Fort Portal Tourism City.
During Sunday’s event, demos of the traditional ways of making tonto (a traditional fermented beverage), grinding millet on a grinding stone, pounding G.nuts using a locally made mortar and pestle were all on display meant to show the world the different culture that the Tooro Kingdom has in store.
The Tourism industry is a key sector in Uganda’s economy, accounting for 18% of the East African nation’s gross domestic product as of 2019.