For the second year in a row, tourism blogger, Sarah Kagingo has scooped the Ekkula Tourism Award for her exceptional role in using social media to promote Uganda’s tourism attractions.
The Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism Awards, now in their fourth year recognize the individuals and brands “that love Uganda relentlessly and stand out in the tourism industry for their selfless service”.
This year’s Awards gala held at Sheraton Kampala Hotel was hosted by Next Radio presenter, Qitiu and NBS TV anchor, Samson Kasumba.
It brought together key players and influencers within Uganda’s tourism sector, including State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, the Chief Executive of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Lily Ajarova, the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority Samuel Mwandha, heads of tour companies and Associations, tourism beauty queens, and guests.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah presided over the ceremony characterized by pomp, red carpet, entertainment and dining.
Last year, Sarah Kagingo, known for her strong devotion to tweet and post everything positive about Uganda, won the Ekkula Award for Best Tourism Blogger. This year, she was awarded for Exceptional Promoter of Tourism on Social Media.
With close to 60,000 followers, Sarah is among the top most followed Ugandan females on Twitter. She equally has a sizeable following on Facebook and Instagram which platforms she uses largely to amplify the natural beauty, attractions and positive stories emerging from Uganda. For many, her win on Friday night did not come as a surprise, although she was up against stiff competition from Amos Wekesa, another strong influencer.
“I am extremely very happy to win tonight. It has been a very tight competition because all other nominees are deserving,” Kagingo said in acceptance of the accolade during the ceremony.
“When I set out to use social media to promote everything positive about our country, I didn’t expect anything in return. But that you have voted me and found me worthy of this Award this year when the tourism sector’s theme is using digital to drive tourism numbers to Uganda, I am extremely happy,” she added.
She later told SoftPower News that her efforts in promoting brand Uganda on Facebook date back to 2010 when she signed up. She describes Uganda as “very beautiful” and with “very good people and culture”.
“So, I am attracted to the positives, the good things about our country in spite of some challenges we face. When you move around the country, everything is beautiful. Uganda is so beautiful that one gets inspired to share our amazing country with the rest of the world,” the CEO of SoftPower Communications and SoftPower News told this website.
According to Kagingo, there is great potential in social media as a tool to promote Uganda as a tourism destination since all a user needs is a smart phone and data. There are no limits to what one can share on social media nor is one at the mercy of an Editor, Kagingo says.
“You have a smartphone, you have a platform. So, why not use it to share everything good about our country? Each one of us can do that – you can share a beautiful sunset or beautiful lake somewhere,” added Kagingo who doubles as the President of Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU).
BELOW IS THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Lifetime Tourism Achiever – Sudhir Ruparelia
Tourism Personality of the Year – Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi
Best Overall Tourism Event – Nyege Nyege Festival
Best Food Event – Rolex Festival
Best Domestic Airline – Aero Link
Best User Friendly Digital Transport – SafeBoda
Best International Airline (Economy) – Ethiopian Airlines
Best International (Business) – Emirates
Best Tourism Photographer – Mathias Mugisha
Most Active Tourism Cluster – Kigezi
Most Attractive Tourism Association – Association of Uganda Tour Operators
Finest Traditional Dance Troupe – Kika Dance Troupe
Best Private Wildlife Conservation Centre – Ziwa Rhino Sabctuary
Exceptional Tourism Promoter on Social Media – Sarah Kagingo
Best Promotional Cultural Event – Bakiga Nation
Best Fashion Event – Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards
Young Tourism Achiever – Natalie Bitature
Tourism Ambassador – Zarinah Tlale
Ugandan Cuisines Restaurant – -Shaka Zulu
Standard Service Hotel – Wash & Wills
Eco Safari Lodge – Seranada Eco Resort
New Hotel of the Year – Skyz Hotel Naguru
Service and Luxury Biz Hotel – Speke Resort Munyonyo
Fast Foods Restaurant – CafeJavas
Tour Guides – Arshley Brian, Ben, Denis Arineitwe