Uganda hotels to charge less for locals

Uganda’s hotels are facing tough times. Despite their country having top attractions such as Nile rafting trips, the Great Rift Valley, and safaris in the many national parks filled with wildlife, the average hotel is running at only 50 percent capacity. Adding to this problem is that wealthy Ugandans don’t go for internal tourism, preferring to jet off to more exotic destinations like Europe. Well, exotic to the Ugandans anyway.

Hoteliers in Uganda have decided to change that by offering a 40 percent discount to Ugandan citizens at certain times of the year. So if you decide to head on over to East Africa to see Lake Victoria, elephants, mountain gorillas, and all the other sights Uganda has to offer, you’ll have a chance to meet more locals than ever. Travelers to Africa tell me the capital Kampala is a lush town full of energy and interest, and it even made it into the list of 15 green cities. Uganda has a lot to offer, and they deserve a healthy tourism industry after they thumbed their collective noses at the terrorists.

[Photo courtesy K. Stefanova via Wikimedia Commons]

Uganda defies terrorists and remains open for business

Way to go, Uganda.

A week after a bomb ripped through a crowd watching the World Cup, Uganda has thumbed its nose at the terrorists and declared it is open for business.

The country’s tourism minister says they’ve beefed up security at public gatherings and are checking public places such as bars and restaurants to improve day-to-day security. Serapio Rukundo, the tourism and wildlife minister, said in a recent statement that the terrorist attacks in the capital Kampala were “meant to scare and discourage visitors.”

Al-Shabaab, a Somali Islamist group, has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Uganda is one of several nations in the region supporting the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, which is fighting Al-Shabaab.

This weekend Uganda hosts the African Union summit, so security will be a key issue. It’s a key issue at any time, because Uganda has a thriving tourist industry based on its teeming wildlife and beautiful landscape. One Ugandan newspaper recently reported there has been no reduction in reservations for safaris, an indication that tourists are thumbing their noses at the terrorists too.

Another tourism official, Edwin Muzahura, said, “These scares happen anywhere and tourists cannot stop to come because two bombs are detonated in some parts of Kampala. . .People out there understand that there are security concerns in America, Europe, Asia and everywhere.”

While the death toll from terrorism keeps rising, its impact may actually be on the wane. As Mr. Muzahura points out, terrorism can now happen anywhere. Nowhere is totally safe, therefore there is no compelling reason to avoid certain areas. I even had a safe and enjoyable trip to Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia, where I found the Somali people to be warm and welcoming, certainly not the image Al-Shabaab wants to project. The terrorists may be losing some of their ability to assert terror.

I wish I had the money to go to Uganda right now.

Image courtesy user dog blue via Gadling’s flickr stream. Check out dog blue’s excellent
Uganda series for more reasons to visit this beautiful African county.

Where to plan your next environmentally vacation: 15 green cities

The good folks at Grist put together their own list of 15 green cities. Although their thought was probably to showcase the green efforts made by local governments and locals to make the cities more environmentally friendly, in reading it I realized it was a great list of places to chose your next eco-vacation.

If you’re looking to take public transportation, play in parks and learn more about sustainability as part of your next vacation, here are the 15 cities that made the list:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland
  2. Portland, OR, U.S.
  3. Curitiba, Brazil
  4. Malmö, Sweden
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. London, England
  8. San Francisco, CA, USA
  9. Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador
  10. Sydney, Australia
  11. Barcelona, Spain
  12. Bogotá, Colombia
  13. Bangkok, Thailand
  14. Kampala, Uganda
  15. Austin, TX, USA

Some of the selections surprised me; Bangkok for example, but apparently it’s all about the city’s strategy to make things greener. Check out the full list with accompanying explanations here.

What green cities have you visited?