Uganda, honoured the International Tourism Day with the Kingdom of Tooro in Fort Portal city yesterday.

The official functions were held at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal with a delegation led by King Oyo Kabamba Rukidi Iguru of the Tooro Kingdom and officials from the Monarchy, Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities (RTD) Hon Col. Tom Butime and Ministry officials; Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lilly Ajarova, United Nations Development Program Country Coordinator –Rosa Malango among others.

The International Tourism Day is commemorated every 27th day of September as declared by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the latest celebration making the day’s 40th anniversary.

This year’s celebrations had earlier kick-started with tours to different tourist attractions and sites around the Fort Portal region since Thursday followed by a tree planting session on World Tourism Day at the Tooro Kingdom Palace as the arch planter of the day was King Oyo. The King was followed by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (RTD) Hon Col. Tom Butime, UTB Chief Executive Officer Lilly Ajarova, United Nations Development Program Country Coordinator –Rosa Malango and many more in Fort Portal Tourism City, Western Uganda who each planted a tree to mark the celebration.

This year’s anniversary celebration ran under the theme ‘’Tourism and Rural Development’’. The theme for this year was aimed at inclusion of the local people especially those in rural communities so as to enable them to benefit from Uganda’s vast diverse tourism sector for better livelihoods while the tree planting session was to honour the impact and connection of the green eco-system towards the development of tourism as a whole especially in rural areas as tourism entails trees as part of its natural resources that can foster economic growth if well attended to.

Given the Covid-19 situation that led to the constriction of the tourism sector as there has been almost no tourism business activity ongoing since measures to curb down the spread of infection were instituted in March this year in Uganda, World Tourism Day celebrations availed an opportunity for dialogue between the different stakeholders to discuss ways towards fostering the tourism sector and also about overturning issues that have really bruised the sector badly.

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Whilst addressing guests at Nyaika Hotel in Fort Portal during the days Celebrations on Sunday, His Majesty King Oyo passed on his appreciation towards Uganda and the International Community upon celebrating World Tourism Day and also passed on sincere apologies for all those especially operating in the tourism fraternity for the revenue losses since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“I congratulate you all upon celebrating the international World Tourism and also thank Government for commemorating the day together with the Tooro Kingdom for the first time ever in the history of the Kingdom. However, I express my solidarity to all those that were affected and infected by Covid-19 and extend my sincere condolences to all those that have lost their loved ones. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the Private sector so much especially those in the tourism business,” the king said.

The Uganda Tourism Board CEO –Lilly Ajarova appreciated King Oyo for enabling World Tourism Day activities take place in the Kingdom and also congratulated him upon the 25 years on the throne of the empire of the Tooro Kingdom he earlier celebrated this month.

“Indeed Uganda is the Pearl of Africa and Tooro has some of the tourism sites and attractions that contribute to Uganda’s glory in terms of tourism and wildlife as the country offers a diversity of what all other destinations in the World have and we thank you for always supporting all the activities in the development of tourism in the region,” Arjarova said.

She continued and revealed that UTB is mandated towards promoting Uganda’s tourism and also observe that the country is a preferred tourism destination given the beautiful attractions as the board is ready and committed towards the task to ensure that Uganda becomes the most preferred destination in the whole world.

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“The Tourism and travel sector has been the most impacted of all sectors by the Covid-19 global pandemic, therefore the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda Tourism Board and all other agencies in the private sector are really working hard to ensure tourism in Uganda recovers while we put in place whatever is required to have the sector back. We have also gone a step ahead working together with the local Government to make sure the Standard Operating Procedures mandated are fully observed,” she added.

United Nations Development Program Country Coordinator –Rosa Malango congratulated the Kingdom and Uganda upon celebrating the World Tourism Day.