Tag Archives: Africa

Uganda Host Country Day, A Trip to the Source of the Mighty Nile River, Jinja

15 Nov

By Kat Alexander

The Africa Travel Association’s 39th Annual World Congress was held from November 11-16, 2014 in Kampala, Uganda, with attendees hailing from across the African continent, the United States and beyond. Following four days of informative conference sessions, delegates were treated to a day at Jinja, the second largest town in Uganda and the source of the mighty River Nile.

Photo by: Marie Claire Andrea

Photo by: Marie Claire Andrea

Our journey started early Saturday morning at the Speke Resort Munyonyo. Delegates boarded a caravan of cars and mini-buses and traveled 90 kilometers east through the Ugandan countryside. After a two-hour journey past breathtaking views of lush green hillsides, tea plantations, and the Mabira Forest, we arrived in Jinja.

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Photo by: Kat Alexander

Delegates gathered on a hillside above the Eastern Bank of the River Nile, near the point where the river begins to flow from Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile, to the Mediterranean Sea. Honorable Rebecca A. Kadaga graciously addressed the delegates. “It’s been a blessing and a privilege for us to host you in our country, which is also your home,” she said, supported by the Hon. Uganda Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Dr. Maria Mutagamba and Hon. Bouba Bello Maigari, Minister of State, Ministry of Tourism and Leisure Republic of Cameroon.

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Photo by: Kat Alexander

In a gesture towards sustainable development and in line with ATA’s Annual Tree Planting Ceremony at the World Congress, the Uganda Tourism Board gave each delegate a sapling to plant on the river bank. “We believe that in your lifetime you will come every often… to look after your tree. Your tree will be named after yourself,” said David Gyabi of the Uganda Tourism Board.

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Photo by: Kat Alexander

After the tree planting ceremony we walking down a brick stairway — passing women selling colorful handicrafts — to the banks of the Nile.

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Photo by: Kat Alexander

A dugout canoe race was held to mark the festivities, each boat propelled through the water by three men.

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Photo by: Kat Alexander

In the end, the team rowing on behalf of The Bank of Baroda emerged victorious.

Photo by: Marie Claire Andrea

Photo by: Marie Claire Andrea

Photo by: Solomon Mario Oleny

Photo by: Solomon Mario Oleny

Following the race, delegates walked along the bank of the Nile to board boats of their own.

Photo by: Kat Alexander

Photo by: Kat Alexander

After a 10 minute ride south, we reached a cluster of huts perched just above the water line. Just beyond, a small blue sign emerged from the water saying, “The Source of the R. Nile.”

Photo by: Kat Alexander

Photo by: Kat Alexander

We crossed on to Lake Victoria and continued our journey, eventually pulling ashore under a row of palm trees. We enjoyed a delicious lunch under the warmth of the sun, a perfect ending to our day together.

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President Obama’s Visit to Africa: Big Hopes for Tourism?

28 Jun

As US President Barack Obama wraps up his trip to Senegal and gets ready for the second leg of his African tour with a visit to South Africa, followed by Tanzania, Africa’s tourism stakeholders in government and in the private sector, are viewing the trip as an important opportunity to market Destination Africa to American tourists and investors.

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The timing of President Obama’s trip couldn’t be any better, especially with Africa becoming a more accessible tourism market for Americans.

According to sources at the Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, Europe is still the number one destination of choice, followed by the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. But the outlook for both business and leisure travel to Africa is bright. While the number of U.S. visitors to the African continent has been down in recent years, spending by U.S. travelers has increased every year, up 150% from 2003.

This is especially good news for Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, countries that will not only host the President and his family, but also large delegations of American economic officials, business executives and journalists.

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During President Obama’s three-country, week-long tour, each delegate – or visitor – will play an important role in the growth of the specific destination. As we all know, tourism changes a visitor’s perception of a place that he or she may have only read about or watched on the news.

Tourism also leads to direct investment in the local economy. Every taxi ride, restaurant meal, hotel stay, street purchase, and museum visit has an immediate impact on the local community and people’s lives.

In the medium-to-long-term, tourism creates opportunities for job creation, earnings, business investment, trade and entrepreneurship. It also can pave the way for environmental and cultural preservation, strengthened national identity and political understanding.

The Africa Travel Association has been bringing large delegations from the United States to Africa for 38 years now. In fact, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania all have longtime relationships with the association. Each one has hosted an ATA travel industry events, dating back to ATA’s eco and cultural tourism symposium in the coastal town of Saly, Senegal in 1992 and, most recently, ATA’s 36th world congress in Dakar, Senegal in 2011. Events like these – two in Senegal, two in South Africa and three in Tanzania – have a longstanding and lasting impact on U.S. and African relations.

ImageWhen President Obama stops in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, trade, investment and business, alongside development, democratization and Africa’s youth population will be the topics on hand. Tourism intersects with each one of these issues.

President Obama understands this connection. Remember when he urged Congress and the country to back his tourism initiative to welcome more visitors to the USA in January 2012 or his most recent efforts to bring visitors back to the New Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy?

Maybe the right elements are beginning to fall into place: we have a U.S. President, who understands the potential of tourism to create jobs, a delegation that is thinking about economic opportunity, trade and public-private partnerships, and stable countries that are targeting the American source market. What else could we hope for?

Sharon Roling
Africa Travel Association

(Photos courtesy of Andrea Papitto, Sharon Roling and Yvonne Noel.)