KAMPALA, Uganda – Culture diversity will feature prominently in this year’s Miss Tourism 2015 whose preparations started in Karamoja and West Nile recently.
Karamoja and West Nile tourism clusters are the latest additions to the 9 regional clusters (Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro, Tooro, Northern, Teso, Ankole, Eastern/Bugisu, and Kigezi) that competed for the prestigious title last year.
Young women between 18 and 27 who understand their respective cultural values have expressed interest from both Kampala and upcountry to represent their regions.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Uganda’s Cultural Diversity”.
According to Ayishar Nagudi, the Miss Tourism Uganda Public Relations Officer, every regional cluster in the competition will send three girls to the National boot camp in August.
“It is time to showcase Uganda’s diverse culture and promote it as a tourism product,” said Nagudi.
“The young women will not only be addressed as beauty Queens but will also become Ambassadors of Uganda Tourism at international, regional and local tourism events,” she added.
Miss Tourism is an annual pageant that was revived recently by Uganda’s Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba to promote Uganda’s tourism by engaging Ugandan ladies to showcase Uganda’s attractions.
The Overall Miss Uganda Tourism winner represents Uganda at the Annual Miss Tourism International held in Malaysia on 31st December each year. Miss Tourism Uganda 2013 made Uganda proud by winning the Miss Friendship International award in Miss in December 2013.
Eric Ntalo, the Media Coordinator of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators acknowledged the theme driven towards cultural tourism. He said cultural tourists make up the least composition of visitors to Uganda but are some of biggest spenders in the tourism economy.
The Miss Tourism pageant was revived in 2013 after a 6-year absence as a key social event. The Tourism ministry is taking the lead role in organizing the pageant working in collaboration with other sector agencies and the private sector.
The development of the domestic portfolio is as important as that of the international portfolio for the growth of tourism in Uganda. Despite its importance, domestic tourism has remained low key in Uganda in comparison with other countries in the region like Kenya and Rwanda. Competing for Miss Tourism is one of the ways that can promote local tourism and hence a drive for domestic tourism.
“Whereas international tourist arrivals and contribution to GDP increased in 2013 up to 1,206,334 arrivals from 1,196,000 from 2012, the number of Uganda citizens visiting National Parks and other tourism sites has not significantly increased.
“In that regard, the objective of the Miss Tourism Pageant is to identify individuals who will support national efforts to build the domestic tourism portfolio through motivating fellow citizens to act in the interest of promoting a tourism culture,” said Ntalo. According to the Economic and Statistical Analysis of Tourism in Uganda, cultural tourists spend 30 to 100% more per every visit than other tourists.