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Cheptegei Named Uganda’s Tourism Ambassador

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Ahead of expected recovery of the global tourism sector in late 2021 and beyond, Destination Uganda has kicked off a campaign to reposition herself as Africa’s most competitive destination for tourists and tourism investments.

Today, Destination Uganda has unveiled, its own Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei, the reigning World 10,000m Champion as its brand ambassador.  

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the official Government of Uganda’s destination marketing organization for Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei have entered a one-year partnership that will “leverage Cheptegei’s global recognition and his love for his motherland” to “promote and market Uganda as a preferred destination for both domestic and international tourists and investors.”

“This is a mutually beneficial partnership, in which, UTB shall collaborate with Cheptegei and provide support towards his athletics activities at both the domestic and international level and in turn, earn his support and access to his platforms and networks to promote Destination Uganda,” said Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the UTB Chief Executive Officer.

Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei, a Ugandan, is the reigning world champion in the 10,000m category. He is also the current 8th overall top athlete in the IAAF’s men’s rankings. He is a member of the Netherlands-based NN Running Team, alongside other star athletes such as Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.   

Mr. Cheptegei’s role as Destination Uganda’s Ambassador

Unveiling the partnership at the Uganda Golf Club in Kampala, Ajarova said that under the partnership, Joshua Cheptegei, shall: 

  • Engage in and endorse tourism campaigns for marketing and promoting Uganda as a preferred tourism destination.
  • Promote destination Uganda during his domestic and international sports activities, dressed up in branded uniforms and display the branded collateral. 
  • Authorize UTB to use his image in photos, videos and promotional collateral. 
  • Engage his domestic, regional and international athletics network and peers and encourage them to visit Uganda.
  • Create publicity and awareness of the tourism destinations in Uganda that he travels to.  
  • Participate in and attend any other tourism promotion events in Uganda. 

Ms. Ajarova said that Mr. Cheptegei’s partnership with UTB, to promote Destination Uganda, also complements other ongoing initiatives, such as the ongoing Tourism Ambassadorship (2020/21) by award-winning artist, Eddy Kenzo, who was unveiled by the Ministry as the Tourism Ambassador in September 2020.

An honour and patriotic responsibility

Accepting the challenge, Cheptegei said he was more than honoured by the “huge responsibility, to be Destination Uganda’s ambassador.”

“It is a responsibility that I accept with all humility,” he said, adding: “It is both a challenge and a blessing.”

“Perhaps even more important, I am now even more motivated to give every race my all, because I know every win, is not just for me- but it is a win for every of the 700,000 Ugandans employed in the tourism sector, whose livelihoods have been put at stake by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Cheptegei urged Ugandans resident in Uganda and the diaspora to each devote time to promoting Destination Uganda, saying this will put more money into the pockets of Ugandans and improve livelihoods of especially women and the youths.   

“Having been born and raised in the mountainous Kapchorwa district in the Sebei sub-region on the slopes of Mountain Elgon, close to the famous Sipi Falls, I am deeply aware of the impact of tourism on livelihoods, from the top to the very bottom of the chain. I know what tourism can do for the youth, women groups and even the uneducated,” he said. 

“Much as Uganda is well endowed, it is not enough, if the world does not know about it. It is our responsibility as Ugandans to shout on top of the mountains and down in the valleys to everybody across the world such that we attract more and visitors,” he said.

Speaking at the unveiling, Col. Tom Butime, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, hailed the partnership with Mr. Cheptegei as a “vivid statement about our intentions to rebuild our tourism sector post Covid-19.”

“That we have chosen our own home-grown star talent to promote our uniqueness to the world, it couldn’t get any more authentic than that,” he said.   

Rebuilding Uganda’s tourism sector post Covid-19 

Col. Butime said the partnership with Cheptegei and other similar such initiatives to be unveiled in the year, were part of the Government’s big tourism push that would focus on increased investment in tourism infrastructure and massive marketing for the ‘Pearl of Africa’ brand to increase Uganda’s share of the tourism market in the region and on the continent.

He said that in Uganda’s National Development Plan III, the government has outlined 5 major strategic areas for investment, that amongst others, included, improving tourism infrastructure, enhancing airline connectivity to Uganda, as well as increasing Destination Uganda’s brand equity globally. 

Regarding tourism infrastructure, he said that in addition to relaunching Uganda Airlines and the USD600m investment in 700km of tourism/oil roads in the tourism-rich Albertine region, government had also earmarked:

  • Tarmacking of over 370km of more tourism roads
  • Development of the Source of the Nile and Kagulu hills in Busoga
  • Improving infrastructure in an and around the Rwenzoris, under the Mt. Rwenzori Tourism Infrastructure Development Project;
  • Improving infrastructure in Eastern Uganda, under the Mt. Elgon Tourism infrastructure Development Project;
  • Relocating and upgrading the airstrip at the periphery of Kidepo Valley National Park;
  • Construction/rehabilitation/upgrading marine/water routes including 20 docking piers on Lake Victoria and Lake Albert and a Ferry on Lake Bunyonyi;
  • Developing and improving the roads to cultural heritage sites of Bigo Byamugyenyi archaeological heritage, Nyero, Patiko and Emin Pasha’s fort.

“All the above, are geared at increasing Uganda’s attractiveness as a preferred tourist destination. This will increase the number of tourists; the value of their spending and that will attract more investments that will create more jobs that will put more money in the pockets of all Ugandans,” Col. Butime said.   

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