Dragon boat race ushers in Uganda-China tourism season in Uganda

This year’s Dragon Boat Festival in Uganda hopes to attract even more Chinese tourists.

Summary:

  • Uganda and the Chinese Embassy in the Eastern African country have jointly launched a tourism season between the two countries, with a dragon boat race held ahead of the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

The government of Uganda and the Chinese Embassy in the Eastern African country have jointly launched a tourism season between the two countries, with a dragon boat race held ahead of the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.

Chinese companies in Uganda dispatched their best paddlers, both Chinese and Ugandan, to compete in the race, which also attracted participants from local communities, near the shore of Lake Victoria in central Uganda, Sunday.

Vibrant sounds filled the air as supporters cheered for their teams, in an event that analysts say is a show of growing Uganda-China ties in diplomacy, economy and culture.

Ugandan Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Martin Bahinduka, was the chief guest. He urged Ugandans to learn from the Chinese who attach great importance to their culture, noting Uganda’s abundance of cultural heritages that should be cherished.

The minister said this year’s Dragon Boat Festival is a springboard to promote Uganda to Chinese tourists.

“This is a very big market from which we can tap from,” Bahinduka said. “We have 9,000 Chinese coming to Uganda annually as of 2023. We believe we can increase this number to 15,000-20,000.”

Fan Xuecheng, charge d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Uganda, said the Dragon Boat Festival is a key tradition that brings Chinese people together, and hosting dragon boat races will consolidate the public foundation for China-Uganda friendly cooperation and further promote the cultural exchanges between the two countries.

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“Although China and Uganda have different traditions, we have the same concept to integrate the history, culture and modern civilization into tourism development,” he said.

As tourism has become an important channel for exchange and mutual learning among civilizations, Fan said, the Chinese Embassy is working with the Ugandan government to promote Uganda as a destination for Chinese tourists.

“Every year, 130 million Chinese tourists go abroad. We hope we can bring more Chinese tourists to Uganda to explore its beauty,” Fan said, adding that a tourism seminar will be convened later this year to promote Uganda in China.

Rodney Babala, one of the Ugandan paddlers, said after the race that his team, with both Chinese and Ugandan nationals, had practiced together for a month to prepare for the event.

He said China has played a great role in the development of Uganda, in sectors ranging from infrastructure development, and trade, to health and tourism.

The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on Monday, June 10 this year, is commemorated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar.

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