Uganda targeting $1bn from bird watchers

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Uganda with 1,067 species of birds beats US and Europe combined. But when it comes to earning from bird watching, Uganda doesn’t come anywhere close to North America and Europe.

This, according to Stephen Asiimwe, the chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board is unacceptabl

“We have more birds than US and Europe combined but they earn more than us,” said Asiimwe, adding that Uganda is working round the clock to change this state of affairs.

Asiimwe was today speaking at a press conference organised at UTB offices in Kampala. The press conference was called ahead of the Africa Birding Expo to be organised from 18th November to 21st November. He referred to birders as big spenders and that this is going to help Uganda to scale up its earning from the tourism sector, which currently earns about 10% of GDP. “We are targeting 100,000 birders who will bring in $700m a year in the next 10 years,” he said, adding that Uganda attracts only 500 bird watchers every year. This expo is set to attract the most diverse birders and tourists from around the globe who hope to catch a glimpse of the various bird species in the country that may be rare or extinct. These include: the Shoebill, Green-breasted Pitta, African Green Broadbill, Great Blue Turaco and many other rare species. The expo is also aiming at showcasing Ugandan wildlife, geographical, historical and cultural products. Bird watching enthusiasts are expected to attend. There will be a lot of fanfare such as bird quizzes, imitations of common bird calls and other forms of entertainment like traditional dances, pre and post tour opportunities of cultural and heritage sites, and taste of cuisine for children and adults. In addition to the birding expo, Uganda has attracted 21 journalists, bloggers to tour different parts of Uganda starting Sunday hoping that they will popularize Uganda as a birding destination. The US has 17.8 million people who observe birds away from home and Europe has more than 20 million bird watchers. Herbert Byaruhanga, the president of Uganda Tourism Association said Uganda is among the most peaceful and hospitable destinations around the World and that it has developed facilities including hotels and paved roads being expanded to cover the tourism destinations. “The rest of the world is going to get to know about Uganda and what it offers,” said Byaruhanga, adding that they were also going to cultivate a bird watching culture in schools and homes so that they create a bigger bird watching community locally. He also said they have been building capacity within the last 20 years and that all the bird watching destinations in Uganda have a trained bird guide.

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