Uganda: Journalist Promoting Uganda's Tourism

Stephen Asiimwe, who became the chief executive officer of the Uganda Tourism Board in February 2014, told The EastAfrican that he became interested in tourism promotion when he realised that Uganda's intrinsic quality has a lot to offer to the rest of the world.

As to why he finds tourism promotion exciting, Asiimwe says: "Because tourism is an easy thing to buy and sell. It is a product that everybody would buy because we sell experiences."

He singles out inadequate funding of the tourism sector as the biggest challenge facing tourism promotion in Uganda.

Asiimwe is a consultant with rich experience in leadership, management, marketing, human resource and journalism.

As to his greatest professional achievement to date, Asiimwe says: "I have done very many things -- farming, media, education and tourism promotion. Everything I do I give it my best."

He has built two media companies that are now present in six East African countries. These are the East African Procurement News as editor in chief and managing director and editor in chief of the East African Business Week.

He began his career with Uganda's leading newspaper, New Vision, as a business journalist with a passion for travel writing.

Asiimwe holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology from Makerere University, a post-graduate training in management, media, education, marketing and also has an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters awarded to him by the United Graduate College and Seminary, based in Tennessee in the US in December 2008.

He is pursuing an MA in organisational leadership offered by Development Associates International and the Uganda Christian University.

I am a social person and I love to meet and interact with people. My job makes it easy for me to hang out with friends for coffee and also meet people.

What would you have been if you were not in tourism?

I would have been a motivational speaker and life coach.

What signifies your personal style?

If it is a business event I will wear a business suit and on Saturdays you will find me in khaki trousers, sneakers and a cap.

How do you manage your wardrobe?

I invest in good conventional clothing and tend to dress for the occasion. I don't overdress or underdress because I am not too stylish or trendy. That is how I manage my simple wardrobe.

While in East Africa, where are you most likely to spend your Saturday afternoon?

I usually spend my Saturday with my two sons meeting people. My sons usually carry their homework and we work together. I catch up with my sons because it is their day off. This also gives their mother time to do what she wants, like going to the salon, or shopping or just getting things done around the house. We also occasionally go for a movie. I love watching thrillers.

Describe your best destination yet in East Africa?

The Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria in Uganda. They are a tropical paradise because they are right on the Equator, and have both a hot and cool climate; fresh fish, fresh water and air, and white sandy beaches.

Do you have a must-visit list?

I want to go on a pilgrimage to Israel, Palestine and Jordan. I would also want to visit the Nelson Mandela National Museum, better known as Mandela House, in Soweto, South Africa, and finally I would love to visit Mount Sinai in Egypt.

What is East Africa's greatest strength?

It is tourism. The wildlife, nature and the rich culture, heritage and history.

What is your best collection?

I collect pictures and I have a very rich photo bank. My photo library used to be a collection of hard copy pictures but I went digital and now it is in soft copy. I also keep many Bible versions and a collection of biographies.

What's the most thoughtful gift you've ever received?

My wife bought me a rich worded memento for one of my birthdays describing me from her own perspective, and I hung it in our bedroom. She also had an artist do my portrait in charcoal on paper, which also hangs in our bedroom.

What's the best gift you've given?

When my mother turned 70 years old I organised a party for her and surprised her by inviting most of her close friends. I also gave her a ride around the places we lived in Jinja and Kampala. She now lives in our home village in Mbarara district.

What book have you read recently?

I have read two. One of them is The Power of Blessing by Kerry Kirkwood. We usually only look at blessings from a receiving perspective, but Kirkwood's book talks about how you can be a blessing to other people through body, spirit and soul. The other is The Virtue of Wealth: Creating Life Success the Zenvesting Way by Paul H. Sutherland. Sutherland observes that investment is not just about money, it is about people, trust, time and keeping your word.

Which film has impacted you the most?

It is Gabriele Muccino's The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith acting as Christopher Gardner, a salesman. Gardner is forced to live in the streets with his son after losing his job and his wife. He goes through many personal and professional problems but finally makes it because of his persistent spirit, determination and fortitude against all odds.

What's your favourite music?

Gospel, because it is inspirational and spiritually fulfilling.

What is never missing in your fridge?Vegetables, fruits and milk products.

Authors: All Africa

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