UGANDA (eTN) - Uganda’s tourism industry is in jitters since the announcement that Marburg Fever has been identified as the cause of death of at least four people in the Kabale District in Southwestern Uganda. The situation was made worse when it became known that at least one case of Yellow Fever has also been identified in Northern Uganda, besides an outbreak of deadly hepatitis in the Northeast of the country. The Marburg outbreak follows hot on the heels of an Ebola outbreak in Uganda’s Kibale district which scared potential visitors and led to the denial of a visa for Uganda’s Muslim faithful who wanted to go for the Haj pilgrimage only to be told they were banned over Ebola fears.
Current visitors to Uganda, though most unlikely to come anywhere near the area where the Yellow Fever outbreaks were recorded, will now be well advised to get their own Yellow Fever inoculations as the certificate could be demanded from them when getting home or traveling elsewhere after a visit to Uganda.
Said a regular commentator from Kampala yesterday evening when the added bad news was announced: “This was to be a year of celebration. Lonely Planet made us their top destination for 2012. We celebrated 50 years of independence. Business generally was on the upswing. But it ended up as far from normal. We are reassuring our tourists that they need not worry as those places in the North are far from tourist routes, but the Kabale thing is, of course, at the crossroads to Kisoro and Mgahinga and to Bwindi, and that is not so good. Still let me say that our visitors are safe and need not worry.”
As reassuring as that may sound, ahead of the busy high season, this is not something Uganda needed to go through. The international media are now also highlighting the fighting right across the borders in Congo, where militias and the regime army are battling for supremacy to control the area rich in minerals and oil and the spillover of tens of thousands of refugees once again, besides warming up the old stories on disease outbreaks in the past. It never rains but pours it seems, but the time is now to stand up and tell the world about the bright sides of our country and why we are after all called “The Pearl of Africa.”