President Yoweri Museveni has given assurance to potential travelers and tourists from around the world that Uganda is safe, a day after an American tourist who had been abducted was rescued.
Museveni says tourists should come to Uganda and enjoy the Pearl of Africa.
“Last evening, security officials briefed me about the rescue of American tourist Kimberly Sue and her Ugandan guide, Jean Paul Mirenge, who had been kidnapped by criminals in Queen Elizabeth National Park,” Museveni wrote on Twitter Monday.
He said “we shall deal with these isolated pockets of criminals”.
“I want to reassure the country and our tourists that Uganda is safe and we shall continue to improve the security in our parks. Come and enjoy the Pearl of Africa”.
Kimberly Sue Endecott, 35, an American female tourist and Jean Paul, the Ugandan who was driving a group of tourists were abducted by four armed men on Tuesday last week from Queen Elizabeth national park.
They were traveling in a motor vehicle Reg No UAR 777E of World Frontiers Safaris Uganda with an elderly couple, also tourists.
The abductors later demanded a ransom of USD 500,000 (Shs 1.8bn). On Sunday, security agencies in Uganda reported that through a joint search operation, they had rescued the two people.
In reaction to the development, Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu said that the rescue of the two is a great relief to the tourism sector.
Like the President, Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said Uganda as a tour destination is safe.
“This [abduction in Queen Elizabeth] is just an isolated incident. This should not discourage anyone from visiting Uganda. We assure the international community that Uganda is safe. We have alot of beauty for them to come and see,” Ajarova told reporters in Masaka on Sunday.
Tourism is Uganda’s biggest foreign revenue source, earning the country about USD 1.5bn annually. It contributes about 10% of GDP and 23% of exports. The international arrivals registered in 2018 were 1.81 million people, according to Civil Aviation Authority statistics.
The country has diverse natural attractions including the source of River Nile (longest river), snow capped Mount Rwenzori (16,762 feet) that lies next to the Equator and Lake Victoria (largest fresh water body).
In Uganda, one will find the most unique wildlife including over half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, the biggest number of wild chimpanzees, over 1,000 bird species and the big five – lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and buffaloes.
Along the River Nile, one will find the spectacular Murchison falls, a waterfall between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert where the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks, only 7 metres wide, and tumbles 43 metres, before flowing westward into Lake Albert.
The outlet of Lake Victoria sends around 300 cubic meters per second of water over the falls, squeezed into a gorge less than 10 metres wide. The scene is a natural marvel.