Uganda, which was recently named one of the top ten international tourist destinations at the inaugural Global Tourist Destination Carnival, is turning her tourism sector around, using various attractions and faith to grow the sector.
Tourism in Uganda is predominately focused on the landscape and wildlife but has found much success in the growing popularity of Uganda Martyrs.
"2015 was a very watershed year for us, we saw quite a number of projects taking off, specifically we had record numbers in one of our niche products, the Uganda Martyrs, which is a faith based tourism project,” said Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of Uganda Tourism Board.
Uganda has many attractions that maintain traffic into the country; some of the ones mentioned by Asiimwe are; having 50 per cent of the continent’s bird species, the world's largest concentration of primates and some of the best waterfalls in the world.
“Uganda Martyrs is a story of a group of young people at the close of the 19th century, who died for their faith.”
He adds: “There was a kingdom called Buganda, as a result of the Christian and Muslim faith's engagement with the local people, [who] refused to denounce their faith, so the king had them executed and over a century later this has become an attraction for Uganda bring in thousands of people.”
Uganda Martyrs' Day celebrations are held every year on June, 3rd, a public holiday, where millions make the pilgrimage to gather at the now Namugongo basilica.
“Last year Uganda had record numbers of 3.5 million people, up from two-million the year before.”
“For us that was very good because it showed that we had attracted so many people coming for a faith-based emotional visit but now it had become a full-fledged tourism product, to make things even better we saw the visit of His Holy Highness, Pope Francis to Uganda,” said Aiismwe.
Uganda is also the only country on the continent where all three Popes have visited.