By Our Reporter
King Oyo has launched the Tooro cultural tourism festival, an initiative aimed at promoting domestic tourism and amplifying the tourism potential of the newly installed Tourism city.
Dubbed Ekyoto Ha Mpango, it was launched on Saturday during an event held at the Royal Palace to celebrate the climax of the 25th Coronation Anniversary. It is now 26 years since His Highness Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru IV was crowned King following the death of his father, King Patrick Kaboyo Olimi III.
The festival is line with the kingdom’s Vision 2045 which is geared towards a better life and prosperity for the people and Kingdom of Tooro. According to the King, developing and tapping the vast opportunities in Tourism will be one of the ways to achieve this goal.
“We shall promote and support tourism as an important vehicle for the integration, empowerment and generating income for rural communities and people in the informal economy or in micro, small and medium enterprises, which employ a high proportion of women and young people.” King Oyo said. “We shall take advantage of the massive opportunities resulting from the elevation of Fort Portal as the Tourism City of Uganda for the prosperity of the People and Kingdom of Tooro.”
According to Owek. Joan Kantu Else, the Minister of Tourism, Tooro Kingdom, the festival will run for four days starting from 11th to 14th September 2021 under the theme “harnessing the power of your culture”.
The festival will feature several activities including; a royal tour in which royals from different kingdoms will visit key tourism destinations in the Tooro region, Business clinics with a focus on Tourism, as well as Sporting activities like a Boat Regatta and Marathon, among others.
Speaking at the launch, the UNDP Deputy Representative, Sheila Ngatia applauded King Oyo for dedicating the Empango commemorative activities to the promotion of culture and tourism for local economic development.
“Culture and tourism are powerful global economic engines employing thousands, supporting millions of livelihoods, and fostering sustainable economic progress. Throughout the past decade, statistics have shown that culture and tourism can be major drivers of development – with community-wide social, economic, and environmental impacts.” Sheila Ngatia noted.
The tourism sector is a big contributor in Uganda’s economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector was contributing 6.2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (over USD 2bn) and employing 589,300 people – 3.6 % of total employment.
Hon. Tom Butime, the Cabinet Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities who was also a guest at the launch commended King Oyo for the commitment towards the tourism sector, and pledged the government’s support to transform the Tooro cultural tourism festival into one of the most sought after events on the continent.
“The Ekyoto Ha Mpango is more than a celebration; the visitors attracted to this event will inspire a trickledown effect that will positively impact on many enterprises with in the region. The accommodation and food eateries, the entertainment and attraction services, the transport and guiding and more importantly the communities that produce the food and the drinks, the art and craft will all benefit in this festive event.” Hon. Tom Butime further noted.
Tooro boasts of several touristic attractions including abundant wildlife, rare birds, breathtaking landscapes, waterfalls and caves, the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains, scenic crater lakes, as well as a rich culture.