Boy King graced World Tourism Day Celebrations

Uganda joined the rest of the world to celebrate International World Tourism Day on September 27, 2020, with a call for increased involvement of rural communities in the tourism value chain.

Held under the theme, “Tourism and Rural Development,” this
year’s celebrations highlighted the benefits of including locals in tourism,
especially the rural communities that host the various tourism attractions
across the country.

According to a press release by Sandra Natukunda, Senior Public Relations Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board, the celebrations were hosted at Nyaika Hotel by the King of Tooro, His Majesty Omukama Oyo Kabamba Iguru Rukiidi IV, who was fresh from commemorating the 25 years “Empango” celebrations since ascending to the throne as a boy king in 1995 making him the world’s youngest monarch to date.

In attendance were a number of dignitaries including: Hon. Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Col. Tom Butime; Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Mrs. Doreen Katusiime; Resident Representative, UNDP to Uganda, Ms. Elsie G. Attafuah; Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Chief Executive Officer, Lilly Ajarova; Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director, Sam Mwandha; and Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Executive Director Dr. James Musinguzi. Also in attendance were cabinet members of the Tooro Kingdom, local government leadership, cultural groups, and tourism private sector among others.

Addressing guests and His subjects, His Majesty King Oyo
congratulated Ugandans and the international community upon celebrating World
Tourism Day and also passed on his most sincere sympathies to all those
especially operating in the tourism fraternity for the losses suffered since
the outbreak of the pandemic.

“I congratulate you all upon celebrating the international
World Tourism Day and also thank the Government of Uganda for commemorating the
day together with the Tooro Kingdom for the first time ever in the history of
the Kingdom. I would also like express my solidarity with all those that were
affected and or infected by COVID-19 and extend my sincere condolences to all
those that have lost their loved ones,” he said.

The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO, Lilly Ajarova, commended
King Oyo for enabling World Tourism Day activities taking place in the Kingdom
and also congratulated him upon his 25th anniversary as the King of Tooro.

“Tooro Kingdom is home to some of the greatest tourism
assets and attractions that make Uganda the Pearl of Africa. We would like to
thank you for always supporting all the activities in the development of
tourism in the region,” she told the King. Ajarova said that given Uganda’s
diversity of tourism assets and attractions, UTB, together with other sector
stakeholders, was ready to shape Uganda into the most preferred destination in
the whole world.

image 2

“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 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 with the ministry and other sector stakeholders
to put in place Standard Operating Procedures and make sure they are fully observed,”
she said.

She also said that UTB had won the recognition of
international organizations and peers such as the African Tourism Board which
recently awarded UTB the Safer Tourism Seal among others.

The Resident Representative, UNDP Uganda, Ms. Elsie G.
Attafuah, congratulated the Kingdom and Uganda upon celebrating World Tourism

She said, “As UNDP, it’s my delight to warmly welcome you to
this particular day and also thank you all for coming to Fort Portal City to
commemorate World Tourism Day.” 

Ms. Attafuah also revealed that the UNDP has put together a
stimulus package worth Euro 6 million for the tourism sector through the Uganda
Development Bank in partnership with the European Union among several other
benefits to boost Uganda’s tourism sector.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Rtd.
Col. Tom Butime, noted that many rural communities have shown that tourism is a
lifeline, thus the need to fully unleash its true force.

“Not only is this sector a leading source of employment,
especially for women and young people, but it also provides the most vulnerable
regions with opportunities for territorial and socio-economic cohesion. It
should also be everyone’s responsibility to support rural communities’
conservation efforts including those preserving endangered species, ancient
customs, and foods, as well as those preserving unique natural and cultural
heritage,” he said.

In his remarks, Hon. Butime noted that the Ministry of
Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has prioritized the development of the tourism
infrastructure in the National Development Plan (NDP) III and this included the
establishment of water dams in selected savannah wildlife protected areas,
among them Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.

“The Ministry has also prioritized the development of new
tourist attraction sites profiled by region to include new products such as
community tourism and enhancement of adventure tourism by developing hiking,
climbing, and cable cars in the Rwenzori Mountains among others.

“We are, therefore, confident, Your Majesty, that at the end
of its implementation, a significant change in people’s welfare and standards
of living will be evident especially the community groups that are well
organized,” Hon. Butime who is also a subject of the King concluded.

Among other activities held in commemoration of World
Tourism Day, was a tree planting session held at the Tooro Kingdom Palace with
the arch planter being King Oyo 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.

Other activities held included the pet naming ceremony of
the Batooro and a tour of key attractions in the Tooro region incuding the
Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru, Sempaya Hotsprings in Semuliki National Park, Top of
the World, and the Tooro Palace.

Referred to as Uganda’s tourism city for its picture-postcard
likeness and several crater lakes, Tooro Kingdom is one of Uganda’s traditional
kingdoms that was part of the large empire of Bunyoyo Kitara, under the reign
of the Babiito dynasty, which dates back to the 16th century. The Tooro Kingdom
evolved out of a breakaway segment of Bunyoro sometime before the nineteenth
century. It was founded in 1830 by Omukama Kaboyo Olimi I.

Ravaged by war and neglect after kingdoms were abolished in
1967, the kingdom palace has since been restored to its former glory with the
support of Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi in 2001 who patronized the boy king until
his demise in 2011. It is perched at the top of Kabarole Hill in the heart of
the Kingdom.