MBALE – The stage is set for the first-ever Elgon Tourism Expo 2023 with eastern Uganda providing the biggest activities of the year.
This first kind of domestic tourism expo in Eastern Uganda slated for 1 to 3 December aims to showcase Mt Elgon conservation area Tourism attractions to the world after two years lull due to Covid 19 lockdown.
According to Mr Muhammad Mukasa, the organizing Committee chairman Elgon Tourism and business Expo 2023, the Expo will bring together private and public stakeholders along the Tourism and business value chain, creating business and networking opportunities for the tourism sector to enhance economic development and social transformation of the Country.
“Our target is to not only talk about recovery but to also showcase what Mt Elgon has in terms of tourism attractions and also highlight to the country and the world the potential of Eastern Uganda as far as Tourism is concerned,”
“And this is supposed to explain why it is going to held under the theme; Destination East-Uganda: A gateway to responsible and sustainable tourism”
Mr Mukasa revealed that the Mt Elgon Expo and Business Forum also aims to tap into the domestic market and create awareness about the Elgon region as an attractive destination worthy to pay a visit through highlighting the beauty and hidden treasures of the country’s prized tourism sites and attractions strewn around the Eastern region, including Mt. Elgon National Park, Sipi Falls, and Wanale Hill as possible tourist destinations.
Mr Jacob Wananda, the vice President of the Elgon Expo while addressing the press17 November described the Tourism Expo to be held at Court View Hotel in Mbale City as an immersive experience, revealing hidden games, natural wonders, investment opportunities and cultural treasures that define the uniqueness of Mt Elgon area.
He said that the target is to elevate tourism potential and position the Elgon conservation region as a premier tourist destination by emphasising its unique biodiversity and tourism experiences.
“And besides this, we also aim at underscoring the significance of responsible and sustainable tourism practices in order to safeguard the environment and support local communities. We also aim at strengthening ties between destination East –Uganda and East African countries through tourism, forstering cultural exchange and cooperation,” said Mr Wananda.
Mr Wananda added “The Mt Elgon Tourism Expo beckons you to embark on a remarkable journey, celebrating the hidden beauty of the Elgon region. And by joining us, you will not only contribute to its sustainable future but also immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of cultural diversity and awe inspiring natural wonders,”
According to Ms Christine Nakayenze, UWA senior warden in charge of Tourism at Mt Elgon conservation area includes Mount Elgon national park, Matheniko-Bokora game reserve and Pian-Upe game reserve and that majority of the foreign tourists to the park are Israelis, who go to the Wagagai summit to pray.
She revealed that Mt Elgon national park sits on 1,145 square kilometers and that Wagagai, the mountain peak, is at a 4,321 altitude above sea level.
Ms Nakayenze said a visit at Mt Elgon will make you spot primates such as the Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, and hundreds of fascinating bird species, including Golden Winged and Tacazze sunbirds, Ross’s and Hartlaubs Turacos, Black and White Casqued and Crowned Hornbills, the endangered Lammergeier and the Jackson’s Francolin, which is found nowhere else in Uganda.
She said 60 per cent of tourists to Mount Elgon national park are actually locals although majority of them go for the pocket friendly nature walks that cost just Shs 20,000.
“I know Ugandans have the money to afford visiting these places, but they just want to spend it on funny things. Local tourism doesn’t fetch as much income as foreign tourism; it is still very important because many of the foreigners come because they have heard glowing stories from local tourists,” Ms Nakayenze said.
Ms Rachael Kakungulu, the president of the Elgon Tourism and Business Expo there will be an exhibition and trade fair at the Expo showcasing diverse offerings from your operators, hotels, corporate institutions, artisans and conservation organisations.
Ms Kakungulu said the 2023 Elgon Tourism Expo, is a travel and business show that will bring together stakeholders in the tourism sector including high-value target consumers and destination sellers, travel service providers under one roof in a class setting.
“And the cultural showcases at the Expo will include captivating performances, arts, crafts and a celebration of the region’s cultural diversity, touring Mbale’s finest Hotels and adventure activities like hikes, heritage tours, and adventures to appreciate the Elgon region’s natural splendor,” said Mr Kakungulu who doubles as the president of Green Africa Conservation Initiative.
She revealed that the tourism Expo will also have informative presentations on conservation efforts plus sustainable tourism practices and that there will be a plating of trees on Wanale hill, a symbolic act of environmental stewardship contributing to the preservation of Mt Elgon’s natural beauty.
She explained that the Elgon Tourism Expo will be an annual event that will be expected to draw local consumers over the course of three days.
Ms Kakungulu said that the event will be held as an exposition involving Business to Business and Business to Consumer activities into both physical and virtual form and that it will also serve as a means of marketing destination East-Uganda with the new destination brand to national, regional and international markets.
Mr John Hun wick, one of the promoters of the Elgon Expo and managing director Elgon Trekking services said the Elgon Expo is going to offer a snapshot of the area and advance and encourage the meeting of new cultures, fostering the public’s understanding of interconnections and sustainable tourism.
He encouraged the organisers to make local people understand the importance of Tourism to the nation and teach them to conserve and also give lessons on conserving the indigenous trees that are a habitat of many tourist attractions in the country.
Mr Hun Wick said at the core, sustainable tourism is based on economy, and environment and that each of these may be individually sustainable yet unquestionably influence the others. If the economy grows, culture will change, when culture changes, the environmental practices will also shift.
“All efforts have been made to make the Elgon Tourism Expo comprise exhibitions by the tourism service providers, speed networking and seminars on tourism and wildlife sub-themes which means that we are set for the Expo come December 1st 2023,” said Mr Hun Wick
Both local and international tourists, esteemed travel agencies, dedicated conservationists, visionary investors, passionate cultural enthusiasts and esteemed government officials.
DATE and LOCATION;
1st to 3rd December, at Mbale Court View Hotel in Mbale City.