Africa’s Travel Indaba is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar.
This year’s edition is scheduled to kick off Thursday.
However, majority of Uganda’s tourism operators who had planned to attend the event have been denied South Africa visas.
According to Ugandan tourism enthusiast, activist and CEO of Uganda Lodges, Amos Wekesa, so many Ugandan tour operators heading to Durban, South Africa had been denied visas by Monday.
“The Ugandan tour operators go there every year to push for business and denying Ugandans visas is a very shocking act by South Africans. South Africans make over Shs500m dollars from us every year through MTN, Stanbic bank, shoprite, Eskom, Game etc and we make less than 100m dollars from them!” Wekesa notes.
“They don’t even refund the money paid to them and this is unacceptable. The Ugandan tour operators have already paid for accommodation, transport and exhibition fees to South African organizers. Last month, millions of shillings were lost to South Africa as many were denied visas trying to attend WTM, Capetown.”
To Wekesa, this is economic sabotage by South Africa who are happily reaping from Ugandans.
“They repatriate so much money from our economy back to their country.”
He advised government retaliate by denying South Africans visas into Uganda as well.
“They walk into our airport and get visas at the airport without any hustle. They should be made to taste their own medicine like they are doing to us…….Lets wake up if this economy is to grow at all. Am sure so many other Ugandans in other sectors are suffering the same way. South Africa is already a second biggest economy on the continent and they are like thar because of the money they make from countries like Uganda.”
Wekesa further calls for the boycott of South African companies “until their government wakes up”.
It is still not clear why the tour operators have been denied visas but what is known is South Africa marked a silver jubilee as a democracy this year.
As part of the activities marking this milestone, it reviewed its foreign policy because in the recent past, South Africa has not lived to its earlier promise.
“The country has not sufficiently played the role it was expected to play, or should have played in engaging a number of international issues. There is a general observation that there have been missteps which have reversed earlier gains that the country registered.”
According to the reviewed policy released a week back, core emphasis is on South Africa contributing towards a world that is humane, just and equitable for all the people.
Uganda has for the last days been under the spotlight for violation of human rights, which directly contravenes against South Africa’s new foreign policy, though, we can’t independently confirm it is the reason why Ugandans have been denied visas.