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Uganda defies terrorists and remains open for business
A week after a bomb ripped through a crowd watching the World Cup, Uganda has thumbed its nose at the terrorists and declared it is open for business.
The country's tourism minister says they've beefed up security at public gatherings and are checking public places such as bars and restaurants to improve day-to-day security. Serapio Rukundo, the tourism and wildlife minister, said in a recent statement that the terrorist attacks in the capital Kampala were "meant to scare and discourage visitors."
Al-Shabaab, a Somali Islamist group, has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Uganda is one of several nations in the region supporting the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, which is fighting Al-Shabaab.
This weekend Uganda hosts the African Union summit, so security will be a key issue. It's a key issue at any time, because Uganda has a thriving tourist industry based on its teeming wildlife and beautiful landscape. One Ugandan newspaper recently reported there has been no reduction in reservations for safaris, an indication that tourists are thumbing their noses at the terrorists too.
Another tourism official, Edwin Muzahura, said, "These scares happen anywhere and tourists cannot stop to come because two bombs are detonated in some parts of Kampala. . .People out there understand that there are security concerns in America, Europe, Asia and everywhere."
While the death toll from terrorism keeps rising, its impact may actually be on the wane. As Mr. Muzahura points out, terrorism can now happen anywhere. Nowhere is totally safe, therefore there is no compelling reason to avoid certain areas. I even had a safe and enjoyable trip to Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia, where I found the Somali people to be warm and welcoming, certainly not the image Al-Shabaab wants to project. The terrorists may be losing some of their ability to assert terror.
I wish I had the money to go to Uganda right now.
Image courtesy user dog blue via Gadling's flickr stream. Check out dog blue's excellent Uganda series for more reasons to visit this beautiful African county.