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Ugandan travel agents now opt for 'agritourism' to boost arrivals

LUWERO Uganda (Xinhua) -- About 75 km north of the Ugandan capital Kampala, tour operators and bloggers armed with knives go on a hunt for ripe pineapples in a four-acre garden in Luwero district.

It is an experience that the operators are packaging to interest tourists, especially those from Asia.

Uganda is gifted by nature with rich fauna and flora, sprawling hills, magnificent landscapes, the world’s biggest mountain gorilla population, national parks with wildlife gems, some 1, 200 bird species, friendly people, beautiful weather and diverse culture.

Besides these attractions, tour operators believe using the ripe, sweet pineapples as an agritourist delicacy can attract more visitors.

Samuel Mugisha, the director of Bic Tours, told Xinhua in a recent interview that when tourists come, they are interested to visit pineapple gardens in order to partake of the experience farmers go through in growing the sweet yellow fruit.

"We are introducing tourists to the idea of appreciating how pineapple are farmed.

"We take them to the garden where they get to learn about the process of planting the pineapples, how they are harvested and get to go on a ‘hunting’ expedition before enjoying the pineapple," Mugisha said.

When the tourists arrive, they are guided on going to the garden.

They are given a knife or machete.

Each of the participants will go out to hunt for the biggest and most ripe pineapple.

A garden may have up to 20,000 pineapples depending on the acreage.

When they return, the farm manager assess all pineapples harvested and the person with the biggest or most ripe pineapple will be rewarded with a gift of their harvest.

This part of the country grows the most number of pineapples.

From the gardens here the sweet fruit is exported to Europe and Asia.

Uganda is keen on growing tourist numbers from China as a source market for its growing sector.

The country’s tourism officials told Xinhua in a recent interview that they must take advantage of China’s increased interest in Africa to boost tourism arrivals from the Asian country.

"The Chinese have toured all the other continents in the world and now they have special interest in Africa," said Daudi Migereko, chairperson Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), a government agency charged with the promotion of tourism.

"They come as tourists but also as investors.

"So we need to up our game and ensure that we market Uganda as special country within Africa where they can come and enjoy their holidays," said Migereko.

Migereko said the government is in the process of hiring a public relations firm that is expected to liaise with tour operators in China, airlines and other companies to promote Uganda’s tourism potential.

He said already Uganda’s embassy in China and its consulate in Guangzhou are doing some work to market the country.

UTB has also held a number of promotional initiatives, including road shows in some of China’s major cities, such as Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

Uganda also uses public relations firms to market the country in Europe and the United States.

Mugisha said when the promotional efforts start bearing fruit, private operators should be able to offer Chinese tourists a variety of experiences apart from visiting national parks and other tourist destinations.

He said farmers also benefit when tourists visit their gardens for an experience that lets them appreciate the process of farming the sweet fruit.

The country earns about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars annually from tourism and expects the figure to double by 2020.


Uganda deports two foreign nationals over subversive activities

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Ugandan security agencies have deported two nationals, one French and the other Rwandese, for allegedly engaging in activities that may comprise the country’s national security, police said on Tuesday.

A police statement issued here said the two were using their employment at one of the country’s major telecommunication companies to achieve their ill motives.

The deportation of the two foreigners, who were using their employment as tools to achieve their ill motives, has enabled the country to disrupt their intended plans of compromising the national security, the police statement said.

"We urge members of the public to remain alert and continue helping the police and its sister security agencies by reporting any suspicious activity," the police added.

Local media reported that the two who were working for MTN Uganda were arrested on Monday.

The police statement did not give details on what subversive activities the two were engaged in.

Uganda’s largest telecom confirms arrest and deportation of employees

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- MTN Uganda, one of the largest telecommunication companies in Uganda, on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two of its senior employees by security operatives.

The company in a statement said its Chief Marketing Officer was arrested on Saturday upon arrival from a business trip abroad while the Head of Sales and Distribution was arrested on Monday by unidentified security personnel.

MTN said the two have been deported from Uganda to their home countries, France and Rwanda, respectively.

"MTN Uganda, together with all its employees, remains fully committed to operating within and respecting the laws of the country," the company said.

The Ugandan police in a statement issued earlier on Tuesday said the duo were deported because of engaging in activities that threatened national security.

The police did not give details on what activities the two were engaged in.

The police urged the public to remain alert and inform security agencies reporting any suspicious activity.

Seven people were killed and 10 others critically
injured in road accident in eastern Uganda

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- At least seven people were killed and 10 others critically injured in a Saturday road accident in the eastern Ugandan district of Soroti, a police spokesperson said.

Charles Ssebambulidde, the directorate of traffic and road safety spokesperson, told Xinhua by telephone that the fatal accident occurred after a truck carrying mainly cattle traders overturned at Opuyo, about 4 kilometers to Soroti town.

The cattle traders, mainly from Mbale, Bukedea, Kumi and Ngora towns, were travelling to the famous Otuboi cattle market in Kaberemaido district.

"The death toll is likely to go up. There are people who are seriously and critically injured," said Ssebambulidde.

"Our officers are at the scene to ascertain the exact cause of the accident," he said.

The spokesperson said both the injured and deceased have been transferred to Soroti hospital for treatment and postmortem respectively.

Uganda registers about 20,000 road accidents each year, with some 2,000 deaths, making it one of the countries with the highest traffic death rates, according to police statistics.



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