Tourism is one of the fastest growing sources of foreign currency in the world. The sector alone now takes up different forms of specialty all across the world be it a sports, space, eco, golf, medical, cultural tourism and so on.
In Uganda tourism is the second largest earner for the country standing at a whooping 5.6 trillion Ugandan shillings (US 1.60 billion) from 1.6 million tourists in the financial year of 2018-2019.
However the country has suffered a decrease in tourists especially following the COVID 19 pandemic that has seen the sector fall lower on its contribution to the country’s GDP.
Despite all this, the industry has proven to be an effective sector for economic growth. On top of the flora and fauna that this country is gifted with, innovations like sports tourism are bound to increase the numbers.
On September 3, Uganda will host the first edition of the Tusker Lite Mt Rwenzori Marathon, which will take place at the foot of one of its biggest tourist attractions; the Mt. Rwenzori ranges in Kasese.
This will be Uganda’s biggest major offering of sports tourism, an industry that is blossoming elsewhere.
According to Amos Wekesa, from Equator Hikes, the organisers of the marathon, a reported $350m in total revenue is collected annually from climbers who take on Mt Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. Mt Kilimanjaro has an annual marathon and Wekesa believes Uganda can obtain such numbers, with the Tusker Lite Marathon casting the spotlight on the Rwenzoris.
He also revealed that the Rwenzori Ranges offer the most technical mountain climbing challenge on the continent with climbers from across the world visiting it to train for the grueling climb of the Himalayas. More activity around the Rwenzori will draw world attention to the resource and in turn boost the numbers.
The Tusker Lite Marathon is actually expected to attract more Ugandans than foreigners.
Over the last couple of years, the country has put focus on domestic tourism and Wekesa says this is an opportunity for Ugandans to visit their motherland.
“Apart from the marathon, there will be several activities that people can look forward to. People can visit the national parks, we shall have hikes, cruises on the Kazinga channel, bird watching even entertainment after the marathon. There is more than one reason for you to be in Kasese,” he said.
The marathon will start and end at the Kasese Marathons Grounds on September 3. There will be 42km, 10km and 5km races.