The 5th Ekkula Tourism Awards Launched with a call of Rethinking Tourism and Promotion of Green Initiatives

Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment, while being closely linked to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of many countries, especially developing countries.

The 5th Ekkula Tourism Awards Launched with a call of Rethinking Tourism and Promotion of Green Initiatives

Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities says tourism is a weighty field of consumption and a powerful service sector that contributes about ten percent to the world’s GDP. Sustainable consumption and production patterns are central to sustainable tourism. It is one of the world's fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment, while being closely linked to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of many countries, especially developing countries.

This is the ministry’s subsequent justification of this year’s theme of Rethinking tourism.

However, there are numbers of unsung heroes who have lifted our flag so high and hence promoted our beautiful nation to levels of being among the most sought-after tourism destination.

These include Sportsmen and women who directly or indirectly paint promote Uganda; the music artists using music as a medium of tourism promotion, Writers, Photographers, and Investors, the guides who interface with tourists, and the journalists like you who are here among others. Indeed, tourism is everybody’s business.

According to Hon. Martin Mugarra, recognising and appreciating such stakeholders will motivate more to be patriotic and promote the pearl of Africa in different styles that appeal to different people globally.

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities therefore strongly supports private sector initiatives that intend to promote tourism. Such initiatives will increase the quality of service and encourage healthy competition in the industry.

It’s from this background that welcome Africa Tourism and Environment Initiatives quality assurance project, Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism Awards is set to recognise the best performing stakeholders of the tourism industry.

Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism Awards is a Private Sector driven tourism initiative passionate in promoting tourism through Training, Recognising, Awarding and Subsequently Motivating key stakeholders in the Tourism Industry annually.

Currently, the awards are running on their 5th Edition after a spell of two years due to COVID 19 restrictions. Like earlier said, the coordinators of this initiative have shared the set categories and criteria of the Ekkula awarding process.

Even though the country is yet facing another trial, of the Ebola Outbreak, Minister Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka said that the ministry of health through the permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwiine recently announced that the Government of Uganda and Partners have put measures to control the disease. The number of cases have since the announcement of the outbreak on 20th September 2022 decreased. All the contacts within Mubende which has been the epicentre of the disease and the neighbouring districts have been identified and isolated and are being followed on a daily basis.

The Ministry of Health reiterates that Uganda is SAFE for all National and International travellers within the country. All places for conferences, workshops, tourist attraction including national parks are safe for both local and international tourists.

The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Country is under control and anybody with a plan to travel to Uganda are encouraged to continue with their travel plans.

The Award ceremony whose theme is ‘Rethinking Tourism and Promotion of Green Initiatives.’ Will take place on 1st December 2022 at Sheraton Hotel, with special focus on the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030 on how tourism sector can contribute towards the implementation and achievement of the 17 SDGs; aiming to inspire governments, policymakers and tourism companies to incorporate relevant aspects of the SDGs into policy and financing frameworks as well as business operations and investments.

Meanwhile, Africa Tourism & Environment Initiatives, (ATEI) a youth and female-led organization that works towards addressing Quality, Sustainable, and Eco-Tourism initiatives, Environmental Protection, Climate Change, Poverty, and Unemployment.

one of its flagship projects, Ekkula Pearl of Africa Quality Assurance Tourism Initiative and Awards, slated for 01st December 2022 at Sheraton Hotel Kampala. This will have pre-events of quality assurance training workshops that will start before and continue during, and after this year’s awards night gala.

According to Amumpaire Bismac Moses, Team Leader, ATEI, EKKULA AWARDS, the call for Quality Assurance is because it enhances the work structure of the sector. It adds more value to any travel-related organization. It facilitates with ISO certification which covers almost everything including technology, food safety, increased tourism, and improved healthcare.

Improving service quality can increase revenues through (1) retaining a higher percentage of existing customers, (2) attracting more customers through positive word of mouth, and (3) increasing the usage rates of existing customers.

ATEI have previously, had engagement with the girl child empowerment workshops in areas of sustainable tourism and green jobs in the Albertine region, Rwenzori’s and Kasese to be precise. One of the success stories is that of a young law student Sarah Kenyana from KIU, who later joined the miss tourism Rwenzori contest and emerged winner. If we may grant her the chance, the beautiful Sarah Kenyana is here to give her story.

As if that is not enough we went ahead to empower a few PWDs, a youthful student from Kyambogo university, currently reigning as Mr Ability central region, Mr Ngabo Saad, who is affiliated to a tour and travel company advocating for accessible and inclusive tourism.

It is from such success stories that the motivation has been fueled to Mobilize over 50 youths, females, and PWDs inclusive from each of the four regions of Uganda, ranging from Site guides, upcoming Tour Operators, upcoming Safari Guides, street food vendors, waiters/waitresses, hospitality officials, and small business owners in the tourism value chain.

The Ekkula inclusive tourism training boot camps shall kick off from the Eastern Region scheduled for; the 14th -15th of October, Northern 21st -22nd of October, Western 28th -29th, and Central Uganda 4th -5th of November. The thematic areas to deliver include Compliance with Stipulated regulations by Uganda Tourism Board, Branding, Digital Marketing, Quality Assurance knowledge, and Sustainable Tourism practices for small and medium enterprises. This is in line with this year’s theme ‘Rethinking Tourism and Promotion of Green Initiatives.’’

To keep track, ATEI are establishing a database of all participants and forming a call center that handles calls, WhatsApp’s, monthly data analytics, database management, sales calls, and digital marketing.

They have a 360 media coverage of the whole process which will culminate into short and long reports and documentaries. They have put a system to measure success and impact of this much needed initiative that will focus on the following thematic areas.

TOURISM QUALITY ASSURANCE BOOTCAMPS IN AREAS OF;

1. 5 A's of Tourism Elements Accessibility, Accommodation, Attractions, Activities, and Amenities.
2. Social Media Branding and Marketing.
3. Nature based solutions and Sustainable Tourism.
4. Financial Literacy and Book Keeping.
5. Culture and Inclusive Tourism.

The fifth edition of Ekkula Tourism Awards, Motivates , Researches, Nominates, Exhibits, Recognizes and Awards those that selflessly put Uganda’s tourism to admirable heights. These will include both Ugandans and non-Ugandans.

This is the fifth edition of Ekkula Tourism Awards, the only prestigious tourism awards which will happen for the first time since the industry was hit by covid19.

These are the proposed Categories.

1. Tourism Media Personality 2022
2. Travel Photographer Of 2022
3. Tourism Supportive Media House.
4. Cultural Tourism Award 2022
5. Pearl Of Africa Event Of The Year.
6. Airline Of The Year.
7. Exceptional Restaurant 2022.
8. Best Eco Safari Lodge.
9. Exceptional New Hotel Of The Year.
10. Best Luxury And Business Hotel.
11. Young Tourism Personality.
12. User Friendly Transport Of The Year.
13. Adventure Destination Of The Year.
14. Outstanding Tour Guide
15. Sustainable Tour Operator.
16. Innovative Tourism Award 2022
17. Accessible And Inclusive Tourism Award.
18. Outstanding Tourism Entrepreneur.
19. Tourism Honorary Award.
20. Lifetime Tourism Achiever.

Proposed Criteria of Awarding,

• Nominations will be open to the public as they nominate with clear reasons as to why their suggested nominees deserves to be recognized in a particular category.
• Our Scouting team will carry out a groundwork survey both online and on social media together with reviews and advice from the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and its relevant Agencies.
• Then a report of proposed nominees will be handed over to the Panel of reputable Judges who will come up with top nominees per category. These will be shared to the public as online voting begins.
• Voting will be through our online website which will account for 50% of the votes and the remaining 50% will be upon the reputable Judges. Judges base their verdict on the following.
• If the nominee/facility/Stakeholder promotes Uganda as a top tourist destination alongside his/her/its private facility or services.
• The Stakeholder’s/Facility’s level of eco friendliness.
• The Stakeholder’s/Facility’s level of service to Tourists.
• How the facility/stakeholder gives back to the community.
• How the facility/stakeholder impacts the community positively.
• Does the stakeholder/facility promote domestic tourism as much as international tourism?
• Ethics and professionalism exhibited by the facility/Stakeholder.
• Feedback and reviews from visitors from notable travel websites like trip advisor among others.
• Conservation and Culture preservation.

RE: EKKULA TOURISM 2022 PROGRAM LINEUP.

LAUNCH /NOMINATIONS (www.ekkulatourismawards.org) 11th October 2022
ANNOUNCE SUCCESSFUL NOMINEES 7th November 2022
VOTING STARTS 8th November 2022
VOTING ENDS/NOMINEES NIGHT 28th November 2022
AWARDS NIGHT 1st December 2022 @ Sheraton Hotel.