In the past year, the enchanting landscapes and vibrant events of Uganda have been attracting an increasing number of Kenyan tourists, marking a noteworthy 11% increase. This intriguing insight came to light during the launch of the second Uganda-Kenya coast tourism conference held on the Kenyan coast.
The Consulate General of Uganda in Mombasa, Paul Mukumbya, highlighted that by the end of December 2022, the number of Kenyan tourists journeying to Uganda had grown by 40,000. This remarkable leap saw figures rising from 336,294 in 2021 to an impressive 376,294 by 2022.
Uganda’s allure lies not just in its picturesque landscapes, but also in the dynamic range of events that the nation hosts. Golf and rugby tournaments, alongside festivals and music concerts, are amongst the top attractions that are drawing Kenyans in large numbers.
Notably, the report reveals the mutual interest shared by the neighboring countries: “Kenya is Uganda’s leading source market for tourists. However, Uganda ranks second in being Kenya’s most significant source of tourists.”
Delving deeper into the patterns of tourism, Mukumbya shared insights into Ugandans’ reasons for touring Kenya. “For Ugandans, the main attraction towards Kenya revolves around its mesmerizing beaches, captivating coastal scenery, academic endeavors, and professional meetings,” he remarked. A trend that deserves special mention is the rising inclination of Ugandans to choose Kenyan coastal hotels as their preferred wedding and honeymoon destinations.
Speaking on the role of tourism in the Ugandan economy, John Mulimba, the Uganda Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, underlined its pivotal significance. He stated, “Tourism isn’t merely a sector for Uganda; it is a lifeline that powers more than seven percent of our National GDP.” Beyond this, it provides employment opportunities across various sectors such as education, leisure events, the private sector, and many more.
Minister Mulimba has been vocal in advocating for a holistic approach to promoting tourism. He emphasizes that missions abroad should have tourism deeply integrated into their strategic and annual work plans.
Shedding light on Uganda’s unique tourism propositions, Mulimba named a few, like the Namugongo Martyrs Shrines and the Source of the River Nile. These attractions, combined with Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, have the potential to elevate it to one of the premier tourist spots globally.
Another crucial factor contributing to the burgeoning tourism numbers is the improved air connectivity. The flight frequency between Entebbe and Mombasa, operated by Uganda Airlines, stands at three direct flights every week. This seamless air link is undoubtedly a driving force behind the growing number of tourists traveling between the two nations.
In conclusion, this upward trajectory in the number of Kenyan tourists visiting Uganda augurs well for the future of regional tourism. Both nations stand to gain immensely from their mutual interests, potentially leading to a richer, more collaborative travel experience for their citizens.