Tourism is one of Uganda’s economic mainstays and occupies a central place in the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
A recent commentary at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Cheptegei raced to a gold medal in the 5000 meters event underscores this.
The East African country offers a wide range of attractions such as the big cats, including lions and leopards, the big game, including buffalos and elephants, and many others that roam its savannah.
Other tourists are drawn by the thrill of tracking mountain gorillas in the dense forests in the southwest of the country on the border with DR Congo and Rwanda. Many more come to see the spectacular cascading falls of Karuma, Murchison, and Kyezibwa, etc. Lying on the Equator, Uganda is also gifted with rich fauna and flora rare bird species.
Until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Uganda was earning more than $1.6b (about Shs5.8 trillion) from tourism alone, making the sector the country’s leading foreign currency earner.
The Annual Tourism Sector Performance Report for Financial Year 2018/2019 shows that its revenue rose from $1.45b (Shs5.3 trillion) in the 2017 financial year. The report also indicated that the number of tourists in 2019 reached 1,505,669, up from 1,402,409 in 2017.
This meant that tourism alone accounted for 7.7 per cent of the national GDP and 6.7 per cent of total national employment, creating 667,600 jobs.
Just as a result of the closure of borders last year, the country lost $1.6 billion in earnings from tourism, President Yoweri Museveni said, registering the country’s biggest revenue hit in recent years.
While the country is gifted with many attractions, the mountainous Sebei with mild temperatures has its own unique attractions. The sub-region has its ever breezy and cool weather, scenic hills and the cascading Sipi Falls, and above all, Sebei is home to famous world-beating athletes.
All these can be tapped as great tourism attractions.
Sebei Sub-region, which comprises Kapchorwa, Kween, and Bukwo districts, lies on the slopes of Mt Elgon in eastern Uganda. Its people, the Sabiny, are part of the larger Kalenjin community, who majorly live in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Over the years, the Kalenjin have been famed athletes, dominating international long-distance races for decades. But flashes of similar brilliance have emerged among the Sabiny, their kin in eastern Uganda, who have gone on to beat their foes from Kenya.
The drive to develop a competitive running culture and infrastructure took off with the surprise international medal wins only recently, especially after the gold medals of Moses Kipsiro and Stephen Kiprotich, which spurred on global superstar Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, and Peruth Chemutai, among others.
Since 2016, Uganda’s athletes have been training in Kapchorwa Town, holding more than seven running camps. Before then, the destination had always been to Iten, Eldoret in Kenya, where there are more established facilities.
While training in Iten, the Ugandan athletes noticed that a lot of international athletes thronged the area and inadvertently promoted tourism.
While the government is constructing a High-Altitude Training Center in Teryet, 10 kilometres off Kapchorwa Town, Joshua Cheptegei has also embarked on a nobble give-back to community initiative that will see the region boast of a second world-class sports facilities.
With the facilities and beautiful hills, nature trails, tourism sites such as Sipi Falls and the presence of world champions in Cheptegei, Kiplimo, Peruth, Kipsiro, and Kiprotich, the potential for attracting global runners and sports tourism is enormous.
With proper investment and activities such as those being undertaken by this Foundation, Sebei can be a wonderful tourist destination. And with many tourists flocking the region, needless to say, the economy will prosper.[/vc_column_text][wgl_spacing spacer_size=”36px”][vc_column_text]
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