KAMPALA – Uganda plans to leverage on the Kampala Marathon to market the East African nation as an ideal tourism destination.
This follows a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and MTN Uganda for the upcoming MTN Kampala Marathon slated for Sunday 20 November 2022.
Martin Mugarra, the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said the tourism sector hopes to use the marathon to not only raise funds towards improving maternal and newborn health facilities but also draw global attention to the country’s tourism potential.
“Our athletes have become very famous in international marathons abroad, placing our country on the world map in athletics,” he said.
“We, therefore, believe that MTN Kampala Marathon is a golden opportunity for us to lure fans to our tourism potential in Kampala City such as music clubs, cinemas bars and other entertainment.”
He said Uganda is also rich in the high-value destination that offers exceptional wildlife, adventure and cultural experiences which match or exceed those of its neighbours.
Mugarra said the tourism sector is one of the key foreign exchange earners for Uganda, generating US$1.6 billion, and employs hundreds of people directly and indirectly per annum.
MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, Sylvia Mulinge, said they are delighted to have stakeholders in the tourism sector on board for the upcoming MTN Kampala Marathon.
“Currently, countries all over the world are riding on sporting activities to promote their tourism. We, therefore, believe that the MTN Kampala Marathon will help us raise funds to save the lives of mothers and babies but also market our tourism potential.”
Mulinge said it is only a healthy population that is able to engage in tourism activities and thus contribute to the country’s growth and development.
Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer at the Uganda Tourism Board said MTN Kampala Marathon is of special interest to the tourism marketing agency at the time it is developing a sports tourism strategy.
“We look at the MTN Kampala Marathon as a special opportunity to kick-start what we are already doing,” she said.
Amos Wekesa, the Chief Executive Officer for Great Lakes Safaris said it is time for the country to market the MTN Kampala Marathon outside of Africa.
“We need to market this internationally and attract thousands of participants who will come and fill our hotels, grow our revenues and create more jobs for our people,” he said.
Over the past few years, UTB and sector players have embraced sports events as part of their strategy to market the country’s tourism destination.
UTB has partnered with the Uganda Gold Union, Uganda Athletics Federation and in June last year, and in 2019, it entered into a Sh200m sponsorship agreement and partnership with Uganda’s football governing body FUFA as the official tourism partner.
The partnership gave UTB rights to brand Destination Uganda at local and international games in which the Uganda Cranes are participating as well as work with the players in destination marketing campaigns.
Last year, UTB unveiled star athlete Joshua Cheptegei as one of Uganda’s tourism ambassadors. Cheptegei is the world 5KM, 10,000M and 5000M record holder and is now being used by UTB to promote Uganda as a world tourism destination.
This year’s marathon held under the theme ‘Run for Babies’ is expected to raise proceeds that shall be used to improve maternal and newborn services in four selected health facilities – Kisenyi and Kawaala health facilities in the suburbs of Kampala, Kachumbala in the Teso sub-region, and Kaabong in the Karamoja sub-region.
Other partners in the MTN Kampala Marathon include; Stanbic bank, Rwenzori beverages, NBS sports, Huawei, New Vision, and the Uganda Athletes Federation.