As Uganda gears up for the next African Cup of Nations (AFCON) match against Zimbabwe, the country’s State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi has revealed that his ministry and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) are using the Cranes registered success so far in the tournament to promote destination Uganda.
Last Saturday, Uganda Cranes cruised past neigbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the opening match, a 2-0 win that took the team top of Group A above hosts Egypt who beat Zimbabwe 1-0 a day before.
The Cranes now faces off with the ‘Warriors’ today [Wednesday] 8pm at Cairo International Stadium.
Speaking during a press on Tuesday, Cranes Head Coach Sebastien Desabre said, “We are focused and concentrated for the Zimbabwe game on tomorrow. The win we registered against DR Congo now means for nothing. We need maximum points against Zimbabwe so that we head to the final game with Egypt when we are relaxed and already qualified.”
Whereas, team Captain Denis Onyango said a win is their only target today.
Kiwanda who is leading Uganda’s tourism delegation in Egypt, this week said they are not only in the North African country to support the national team but also to ensure that they use its victories in the tourney to push for the tourism growth of Uganda.
“As a Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, my interest is to make use of the Cranes wins to promote destination Uganda. People should now Google about Uganda and it should be the country to talk about. Yes we need a victory but it should be manifested into the promotion of our country’s tourism,” stated Kiwanda.
“Uganda’s first game was very historical. Having the first game and scoring two goals; we had never had it before. The last time we were here we had only one goal in the whole tournament but this current situation is raising our spirit high. We are very sure that everyone is talking about us right now.”
The minister also disclosed that sports tourism is one of the biggest items that can be used to promote a destination and that is why they embarked to use football to promote Uganda’s tourism industry.
“What is promoting UK as a country is basically sports. Very many people have never gone to UK but they talk about their football clubs; they belong to these clubs and every one would love to go and associate with them not because they have national parks, waterfalls but it’s about sports. UK really embraces sports and almost every city is almost a country in terms of football and this has promoted it. So our support and excelling in sports can actually be a very good move to promote our tourism industry. As country we must invest in sports to promote our industry and this is what we are doing,” he said.
“Now that we are on top of the group, everyone wants to associate with us, everyone is cheering Uganda and we are using that chance to ensure that people get to know more about us.”
Kiwanda further called on Ugandans and well-wishers to keep on supporting the Cranes so that it can bring the trophy to the Pearl of Africa.
Uganda’s tourism sector, which now contributes 10 per cent of the county’s GDP, has seen steady growth from income of Shs 1.4 billion in 2007 to more than Shs4.9 trillion currently. It is projected to hit Shs 9.4 trillion by 2020.
The industry’s robust growth can be partly attributed to the Tourism Ministry and UTB’s industrious marketing drive.
Last week, the UTB Chief Executive Officer Lilly Ajarova affirmed that Uganda Cranes’ brand can be used to build the country’s positive destination brand equity and values.
“Football is the world’s greatest sport and viewed by millions of fans across the world. In Uganda, the Uganda Cranes is the greatest football brand- but more importantly the leading sporting ambassadors to the region and the world. We want to open up brand Uganda to the massive sports audience in Africa and the world at large,” said Ajarova.
“We have invited dignitaries from all the AFCON 2019 participating nations to our hospitality tent in Egypt and we shall treat them to the Ugandan experience. We have also planned an open day where everyone will be invited to try out the Ugandan cuisine, learn the Ugandan culture as well as experience Ugandan hospitality.”