Ugandans have warned Parliament against trying to interfere in preparations for Nyege Nyege, Uganda’s most outstanding international tourism event.
Parliament yesterday directed for the cancellation of Nyege Nyege, a popular music festival over concerns of immorality.
The festival that is scheduled for Thursday, 15 September 2022 for three days at Itanda Falls at the Source of the Nile in Jinja district was first held in 2013.
However, Ugandans took to Twitter where they blasted parliament and Speaker Anita Among for trying to sabotage a key music festival.
For the last 5 years Nyege Nyege has been Uganda’s biggest tourism event attracting thousands of international and domestic tourists.
The festival is heavily promoted in Europe, North America and all over Africa. This year’s festival expects more than 8,000 tourists from all over the world.
In 2019, Nyege Nyege was awarded the Ekkula Tourism Award for “Best Overall Tourism Event”
The economic impact of the festival is calculated in millions of dollars, both to the local economy of Busoga region but also to the country as a whole.
More than 1,200 tickets have been bought in Kenya alone.
“Every year the festival attracts thousands of foreign visitors, turning every visitor into ambassadors to the country and potential investors,” said the organisers of Nyege Nyege.
“Almost all the hotels in Jinja, Kangulumira and Njeru are fully booked. This is the highest occupancy reported in Jinja all year long.”
Mike Davies, an international business expert, says blocking Nyege Nyege reduces or eliminates trust in Uganda as a tourism destination.
He said actions of MPs could “Encourage foreign direct investors to look to other East African locations (Nyege Nyege Kenya or Zanzibar) and reduce the impact of Uganda Airlines by non-utilization of the local carrier.”
Mike further observed that Uganda would lose at least Shs 3.5bn in taxes; Shs 3bn in VISA and Shs 222m in hotel fees if the event is canceled.
However, lawyers said Parliament does not have the mandate to cancel a tourism event.
Nyege Nyege has for years boosted Uganda’s Tourism industry as many Foreigners flock for the event from all over the World
Hon. Martin Mugarra, the Minister of State for Tourism, told Parliament that Nyege Nyege is a huge tourism opportunity that has so far attracted over 8,000 tourists flying into Uganda and have bought entry tickets and booked hotels.
“As we speak now, around 8,000 foreigners have already paid tickets and have booked to come and sleep in this country,” he said. He agreed that there was a need to set conditions for the event to happen.
Hon. Rose Lilly Akello, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity said that the government has been working together with the Uganda Police and the event organisers and that the latter have been summoned for a meeting in which they will have to agree to certain terms and conditions for the event to proceed.
“Children below 18 years are not allowed to attend the event. Secondly, nobody should go to that event naked, nobody should go to the event naked, nobody should go to the event with exposure of the body, and nobody should do any immoral activities,” Akello said.
Speaker @AnitahAmong on Nyege Nyege:
We are talking about morality of this country; we are talking about our children. You are trying to promote tourism at the expense of our children? We are not going to allow this function to take part. #PlenaryUg pic.twitter.com/lrHJud9mjv
— Parliament of Uganda (@Parliament_Ug) September 6, 2022
She added that if these conditions were not met, the event would not take place.
The organisers and Itanda Falls management have invested over Shs 700 million in infrastructure development of the venue as a key tourism destination which includes: on site accommodation for 3,000 people (camp site, cottages, etc) and infrastructure investments including toilets, telecommunications, 4 kms of perimeter fencing, water tanks, Umeme power, beach, critical road infrastructure, boat jetty and tree planting activities.
Nyege Nyege Festival employs over 4000 people directly and indirectly. Including more than 800 people from the surrounding community before, during and after the festival.
More than 200 vendors (crafts, food, drinks, clothes etc) earn income from the festival.
300 artists, including 60% from Uganda, making it the greatest annual showcase of Ugandan
More than 10,000 people will travel from all over Uganda to Jinja district while shops, restaurants, markets, rafting and adventure sports operators will have their biggest income of the entire year through the festival.
Hundreds of tour operators are creating packages for the festival regionally.
ChimpReports understands Nyege Nyege has programmed over 30 traditional troupes from all over the country making Uganda shine on the world stage for being one of the world’s most advanced cultural societies.
Numerous international press are attending the Festival including BBC, CNN, New York Times, Le Monde and many more – giving Uganda positive media coverage that enhances the country’s tourism destination.
Hon. Henry Kibalya, the MP Bugabula South, said the minister of Tourism was not mindful of the morals of the country and should not talk about the foreigners who have bought tickets instead of considering the morality of Ugandans.
“I have witnessed this Nyege Nyege and it is immoral; it destroys our children, it destroys everybody. We cannot sacrifice the morals of people because of tickets that have been sold!” he said.
But the organizers say since 2018 they have worked closely with the Uganda Police and all government agencies to ensure a safe and secure festival.
“The organisers have always followed the guidelines and conditions closely,” said the event managers, adding, “There has never been evidence provided of the wild allegations that the festival has been accused of including open sex and wide spread nudity.”