Kampala – The Uganda Tourism Board-UTB said Wednesday that it has signed reigning World 10,000m Champion, Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei as Destination Uganda’s Brand Ambassador.
In a statement to the media at Uganda Golf Club in Kampala, Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the UTB Chief Executive Officer noted that the marketing Agency expects to “leverage” from Cheptegei’s global recognition 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,” Ms. Ajarova said.
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.
According to the UTB CEO, Cheptegei’s role as Destination Uganda’s Ambassador will include engagement and endorsement of tourism campaigns geared at marketing and promoting Uganda as a preferred tourism destination.
Cheptegei will also be expected to promote destination Uganda during his domestic and international sports activities, dressed up in branded uniforms and display the branded collateral.
Other agreed terms include engaging his domestic, regional and international athletics network to visit Uganda, allow UTB to use his image in photos, videos and promotional collateral.
He is also expected to help create publicity and awareness of the tourism destinations in Uganda that he travels to, and also participate in and attend any other tourism promotion events in the country.
Ms. Ajarova said that Cheptegei’s partnership with UTB, complements initiatives from other Tourism Goodwill Ambassadors such as Eddy Kenzo, an award-winning artist who was unveiled by Tourism State Minister Godfrey Kiwanda in September 2020.
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,” Cheptegei said.
He called on all Ugandans to devote time in promoting Destination Uganda, saying this will improve livelihoods of especially women and the youths in Uganda.
“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 added.
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 Uganda’s intentions to rebuild the country’s 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,” Col. Butime said.
The Minister 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 noted that in Uganda’s National Development Plan III, the government has outlined 5 major strategic areas for investment, that amongst others, include, improving tourism infrastructure, enhancing airline connectivity to Uganda, as well as increasing Destination Uganda’s brand equity globally.
According to Col. Butime, the proposed strategic areas of improvement are all 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,” he said.