Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Uganda Golf Union (UGU) to kick-start a partnership between the two bodies that is set to culminate into a new brand of tourism called Golf Tourism.
The partnership was launched at The Uganda Golf Club in Kitante, Kampala and comes ahead of the Uganda Golf Tour that is set to kick off on March 30. From this partnership, both institutions will collaborate to position Uganda as Africa’s premier golf tourism destination. A joint promotion of the Uganda Golf Open Tour which will traverse the whole country is set to kick-off in March.
The president of the UGU, Innocent Kihika expressed his gratitude towards the partnership with UTB and also took time off to illustrate the relationship between golf and tourism.
“Golf as you know is a sport that is unlike many others. It doesn’t last 45 minutes or 90 minutes. Golf is an experience; it’s a whole day event that lasts from the morning to evening and into the next day. And in light of that, we found that golf and tourism do go together.”
According to Kihika, the relationship is going to be mutually beneficial to both organisations.
“When one goes out for a round of golf out of Kampala like in Mbale for example, you have got to travel the day before, you have got to find where to sleep, to eat, to drink and then after you play your round of golf and the cycle is repeated. So the experience of golf is really big and is beyond the golf course.”
Steven Asiimwe the outgoing CEO of UTB says the organisation has taken active steps and is forming partnerships as a strategy to promote Uganda as a top golf tourism destination in Africa.
“Uganda is uniquely placed in such a way that every golf course is near a tourist attraction, for example the Jinja golf course is near the source of the Nile, Mbale golf course adjacent to Mt Elgon and Sipi falls, Entebbe golf course near Lake Victoria and the Uganda Wild Life Education Centre; to mention but a few. This means that every golfer in Uganda or golfer coming to the country stands a prospect to experience the surrounding tourist attractions. We want to tap into this opportunity,” Asiimwe said.
On a global scale, golf contributes about $20 billion annually to tourism and by it or as a secondary motivator is able to attract millions of holiday makers across the world, some that Asiimwe is keen for Uganda to harness.
“Tourism has a direct impact and we want the golfers to go beyond the golf clubs and go and have an experience in every tour that they go with. My basic understanding of a golfer is that they do not travel alone. They are people of influence and if they went beyond the golf course. ” Asiimwe said.
“We have actually discussed with very high profile golf tourists who are willing to fly from very far. Right now as we speak, many places in Europe and America are sub-zero, they are covered by ice and snow, they can’t play the game .Uganda is a perfect mix .Uganda is the only country where you can come and have a good game of golf for 12 hours .So we are saying come to Uganda oh ye golfers.”Asiimwe added
The UTB will sponsor the golf tour at the tune of Shs 50 million running for a year with hopes for more sponsorship in the future.