Uganda on Wednesday warmly welcomed with great excitement the news of being selected the world’s tourist destination for the year 2012 by “Lonely planet”, an international publisher of the world largest travel guidebook and digital media.
According to the world rankings published on the Lonely planet website showing the list of the top 10 countries for 2012, Uganda emerged No. 1 beating Myanmar and Turkey, which came in the second and third position respectively.
As the East African country celebrates its golden jubilee independence next year, it was successfully voted by a panel of senior travel experts, travellers, bloggers and tweeters basing on topicality, excitement, value among other factors.
In an interview with CNC, Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife authority, said the accolade was long overdue.
“We have a lot of biodiversity in this country.
“The country is well placed within the African continent.
“Peace has prevailed in the last 25 years, so I think it was just the best kept secret all these years that Uganda is the best destination,” he said.
Uganda among other tourist attractions boasts the source of the world’s longest river the Nile, 54 percent of the global population of the mountain gorillas, snow-capped peaks of the mountain Rwenzori and recently one of the safest capital cities in Africa, Kampala.
Uganda is located astride the equator and its friendly environment coupled with exceptional flora and fauna, welcoming people and rich cultural heritage has also played a great role in attracting tourists to Uganda.
“For people who want to see nature, to see the best of it, to see diversity, I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” Andrew Seguya added.
Lonely planet notes that in the past Uganda’s tourism had been threatened by civil unrest and conflict but with the current stability, more visitors are expected to flock the East African country.
Although the travel organization in its publication noted some human rights abuses, authorities believe that Uganda has over the years continued to enjoy a peace climate favorable for tourism.
“From the tourism point of view, our travelers must know that they are coming to a country which is very open, a society which is very welcoming,” Andrew Seguya said.
Uganda registers over 500,000 visitors annually and collects revenue of over 650 million U.S. dollars annually from tourism.
Now that the rankings have helped promote the country’s tourism potential, it gives Uganda an opportunity of being highly considered as a favored destination by potential tourists.
In a move to embrace this, the government says its target for now is to hit the ONE million mark of tourists visiting Uganda annually.
In the same sense, Uganda is intensifying conservation efforts, expanding capacity in areas of infrastructure, tourism management and marketing.
Compiled by Jackie