Uganda’s Ebola-free status excites tourism sector

 Wednesday, January 11, 2023 


The World Health Organisation is today expected to declare Uganda Ebola-free after 42 consecutive days with no Ebola case.

This has excited stakeholders in the tourism sector who were hit hard when the epidemic was declared in the country in September last year.

In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, the spokesperson of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Mr Simplicious Gessa, said after the Ebola outbreak, the country was considered an unsafe destination.

Unlike Covid-19 which was global, Ebola singled out Uganda as unsafe with other destinations having a very unfair advantage. Mr Gessa said that they experienced a number of cancellations of tourists with many losses registered from tour operators and hoteliers as a result of Ebola.

The Ebola-free status is a very welcome relief to the sector because the impact of Ebola has been huge.

It is time to tell the good news and do aggressive marketing and awareness about the amazingly beautiful country, Uganda.

UTB plans to work with the private sector to combine efforts in resuscitating the sector, he added.

The public relations officer of the Association of Uganda Tourism Operators (AUTO), Ms Nancy Okwong, said the Ebola-free status will enable the sector to re-embark on recovery from Covid-19 which devastated the sector for more than two years.

She appealed to the government to provide recovery relief to ensure quick sector stabilisation.

Ebola-free Uganda is good business news for the New Year, especially for the tourism sector.

Most of their members have suffered losses and many of the country’s tourist visits have been transferred to other safer countries, Ms Okwong said.

She added it is time to do the marketing of our country as the best destination. However, government should put in place more favourable policies such as tariff regulations which favour the sector players.

The executive director for Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Ms Jean Byamugisha, said the announcement by WHO is a long-awaited unanswered prayer for the sector since the tourism industry is very fragile to health-related matters.

Ebola for most people is worse than COVID-19 and with no known vaccine, it makes it a lot worse and thus deters 90 percent of tourists from visiting the country.

They had numerous cancellations, lost a lot of revenue and all our marketing effects were greatly impeded by this outbreak, Ms Byamugisha said.

It is, therefore, very welcome news that Uganda is officially Ebola-free and we should give this as much attention as we gave the outbreak, she added.

Before COVID-19 Uganda attracted more than 1.5 million tourists from across the world contributing more than 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the national economy.

Industry operators are optimistic that the sector will quickly stabilise given the country’s tourism potential such as wildlife, freshwater shores, mountains and other physical features endowed in the country.

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