By Arthur Musinguzi
From the last time Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) in October 26th to November 2nd 1967, many achievements were recorded. This time around, Ugandans expect a lot from the 64th CPC.
The greatest take a ways from the 1967 conference were; Democratic governance, parliamentary excellence, infrastructural development, selling Uganda as a tourism destination, social development for women, youth and the marginalized.
The Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states that were governed directly or indirectly by Britain. It comprises of 54 independent countries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.
This time around, Uganda is again hosting for the second time. Many Ugandans are eager and prepared to benefit more domestically and internationally from the event. The country will show delegates a seven minute video showing our beauty and potentiality.
The event will attract delegates from all the member countries to deliberate and share a wide range of issues aimed at enhancing governance. CPC is a global even and as a country, we are going to shine internationally.
Tourism aside, the event will provide a great opportunity for Commonwealth Parliaments to engage, deliberate and network on parliamentary best practices, governance/democratic values, and socio-economic aspirations of the commonwealth fraternity.
During the event, delegates will take advantage to visit Uganda’s best tourism sites like; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Semuliki National Park, Ngamba Island, a home for orphaned chimpanzees in Uganda, Sipi Falls is a chain of 3 waterfalls in the Eastern side of Uganda , Mount Elgon.
Others include, the Source of river Nile which is the best place to go for a breezy relaxation, excitement, Sempaya Hot springs are found in Semuliki National Park, Ssezibwa Falls are found in Mukono district, Nakayima Tree in Mubende, Wamala Tombs, The Bahai Temple Uganda found on Kikaya Hill, 7 kilometres from Kampala city centre between 22nd to 29th September or after the conference the amount of money and foreign exchange the country would receive.
It’s on record that tourism contributed up to US$1.35 billion into Uganda’s export basket in 2016, and was the single highest foreign exchange earner contributing to 23.5% of total exports. There’s no doubt Tourism can be used to fight poverty anywhere including Uganda. It directly employs drivers, guides, secretaries, accountants etc in tourism companies.
This also includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services. As we speak the tourism sector employs 6% of Uganda’s labour force.
Projections show that annual tourist numbers have continued to grow from just 650,000 in 2007 to over 1.3 million visitors in 2016 a growth of 106%.
At this rate, local experts say, the sector is likely to achieve the four million mark by 2020. Earnings from tourism are also said to have more than doubled between 2008 and 2016, for instance, annual sector earnings are said to have risen from US$540 million to $1.37 billion.
All added up the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference is expected to attract an estimated 1,000 people from 54 Commonwealth countries from 9 regions which include Africa, Asia, Australia, British Islands & Mediterranean, Canada, Caribbean, Americas & Atlantic, India, Pacific, and South East Asia.
If all these people went back home after visiting these sites, they would do the tourism marketing for us at no cost just by word of mouth and if they posted their experience on social media, Uganda would be a paradise for life.
I would like to wish all the participants of this momentous and historical conference a fruitful deliberation. I also implore members of the public to welcome the guests so that they have an experience of a lifetime to tell when they leave Uganda for their respective destinations.
Short term economic benefits of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference among others will result in an increase in spending and injection of money into the local economy and much more expected in this conference.
The writer is a Communication Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.