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Why Kim, Kanye tourism endorsement is the best

Kim Kardashian and rapper husband Kanye West are not the first high-profile celebrities to visit Uganda’s national parks; many have snuck into the country, enjoyed its unmatched beauty and snuck back out without letting the world know they were here.

In June last year during an editors’ retreat to Kidepo Valley national park, a female VVIP guest – we were told – rented out the entire $850-a-night Apoka Safari Lodge for total privacy, and enjoyed the beautiful park for four days.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the lodge concessionaire were under strict instructions not to divulge any information and I did not read about the mysterious VVIP’s visit anywhere.

French Montana last year recorded his hit single, Unforgettable, with the Ghetto Kids in Uganda, but he concentrated on stereotypical, slummy, poverty aspects of the country.

Other Hollywood big names have been to Uganda to track mountain gorillas and more, but no endorsement compares to the Wests’ current stay at Chobe Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls national park.

With more that 119 million followers on Instagram alone, Kim unapologetically loves hogging the limelight and rarely shuts the public out completely.

Even as the Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) reality star and her husband have Chobe exclusively rented for them as the rapper finishes his ninth studio album Yandhi, Kim is sharing her experience on her social media platforms.

And going by images that have made it out of Chobe, there will most likely also be scenes from Murchison Falls national park showing on future episodes of the hugely popular KUWTK on E!TV.

“Dear world there is another heaven in Uganda. Everything is real as soon as you enter this beautiful peaceful country, the air is so fresh, the amazing water bodies and too much green forests and bushes are so relaxing to watch every minute, then the very anxious welcoming beautiful people with real smiles, eagerness to help,” she posted on SnapChat at the weekend.

“The foodstuffs u [sic] find every minute alongside the roads, different species of birds and primates I never saw in my life and the freedom and happiness you visibly see on the faces of the people, everything is real in this country.”

That there, beats even the millions of dollars our neighbour sunk into an English football club for endorsement… Sorry. This is the age where a big social media following is simply priceless.

Those who watch KUWTK know how the family influences vacation destinations and popularity for the places they choose to go to.

Even for busier destinations such as Bora Bora, Mykonos, Turks and Caicos islands, Cabo, or even Iceland and its northern lights, a visit by the Kardashians was still a huge endorsement.

That Kardashian and West chose Uganda and brought along rapper Big Sean, their daughter North and the rest of the entourage, is a big deal in a country competing in tourism with industry ‘giants’ such as Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and increasingly, Rwanda.

Minister for Information and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze told Associated Press on Saturday that the Wests’ visit is an “endorsement of our tourism resources”.

Twitter and other social media sites have not stopped buzzing with the famous couple’s African safari, since their arrival on Friday. On Saturday, the famous family reportedly embarked on game drives, although Kanye, now rebranded as Ye, will spend much of the week working on his music with Big Sean, among others.

And that is the other thing; the Grammy award-winning star has chosen Uganda over Nigeria and South Africa, to finish his album, Yandhi.

The studio of choice is none other than Benon Mugumbya’s Swangz Avenue, and Benon and his team have reportedly set up a makeshift studio in Murchison Falls national park to get the work done.

Swangz Avenue has declined to comment on the depth of their involvement with the Yandhi project. Video footage has shown Kanye dancing in the studio to Wizkid’s music.

Yandhi was supposed to come out September 29, but Kanye told media in the USA he postponed the release to get in some footage and sounds of nature from Africa. Little did we know that by Africa, he meant Uganda.

After the nod to Uganda’s beauty – however abstract – by last year’s blockbuster Marvel Universe movie Black Panther, this visit by America’s power couple has tourism stakeholders probably doing cartwheels.

carol@observer.ug

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