The Uganda Tourism Board has said they held talks with renowned Senegalese-American musician, investor, and philanthropist Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam, popularly known as Akon to increase the number of visitors to Uganda.
Akon last week completed his visit to Uganda in which he visited several tourist sites.
Commenting about the talks, UTB CEO, Lilly Ajarova said she is optimistic they will bear fruits.
“One of the key opportunities discussed with Rozina then, and again with the couple was an opportunity for a huge potential for a back-to-Africa (in this case Uganda) International Music Festival,” Ajarova said.
“We also discussed marine tourism- given Uganda’s abundance of water bodies, the redevelopment of the Equator—UTB has profiled up to 6 areas of investment as well as the construction of especially luxury accommodation facilities in and around our 10 National Parks in addition to a favourable business environment such as government incentives, widely available and affordable labour, all, combine to make Uganda, one of the best places to visit and invest,” she said.
According to the UTB CEO, they hope to leverage the singer, cum songwriter’s networks to first to create awareness about Uganda in the North American markets and subsequently influence investments inflows as well.
Ajarova said that the North American market includes the United States of America and Canada.
According to the just-released Uganda’s Tourist Expenditure and Motivation Survey(TEMS) 2019 report, although North America tourists constitute only 9.3% of overall tourism numbers to Uganda, they, together with European and Oceania(Australia, New Zealand) were largely leisure travellers that spend between 8 to 14 nights.
Nearly one-third of all leisure visitors were much more likely to stay in either Uganda’s Safari lodges or tourist campsites.
Speaking in an interview in Kampala, Akon said Uganda has one of the biggest tourism potentials in Africa.
“I believe Uganda has the biggest tourism potential in the whole of Africa. Believe me, I have been everywhere in Africa and I haven’t seen the potential like this. I am super excited. When I look at the potential in a tourist point of view, I believe Uganda has one of the biggest potentials,” he said.
“Just with my visit here, so much about Uganda that I never knew even existed. When you look at how Uganda and Ugandans have been promoted internationally, you will be scared to come to Uganda. They only tell you about the times of Idi Amin and all that happened then. They don’t tell you about what I saw. It is time to expose that.”
In another interview with In an interview with Associated Press News, an American newswire, Akon confirmed his company was interested in hosting an international music festival in Uganda.
“Uganda is definitely a hub for investment. We Are looking to put together a huge festival here. One of the reasons for the festival is to expose the local artists here in Uganda because they play a big role in the East African music alongside Kenya and Rwanda and Congo as well too,” he said.