As part of recognising and appreciating key players in Uganda’s tourism sector, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, on Tuesday awarded city mogul Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia for his efforts towards promoting tourism in Uganda.
Dr. Sudhir, who is the Chairman Ruparelia Group of Companies, was yesterday honoured, recognized and awarded at The World Tourism Day Gala Dinner that was at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, as ‘The top Tourism Player and Supporter.’
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Thomas Tayebwa presided over the World Tourism Day Gala that was also attended by several stakeholders in the sector and was the one who handed over the award to Dr. Sudhir.
Rt. Hon. Tayebwa appreciated Sudhir for his passion, efforts and leadership in hospitality and tourism development in the country.
“In a special way, I congratulate Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, Chairman Speke Group of hotels for your Passion and Leadership in Hospitality and Tourism Development,” Tayebwa said.
“I know people who have been calling Dr Sudhir to go and develop their Countries, I know many, some of them were asking me, but this Sudhir man what did you give him as Uganda? The man has a lot of money and we would like him to come and invest in our areas,” He revealed
“So Chairman, I want to thank you and your team of investors who have looked at Uganda as your number one destination for investment,” He said.
Tayebwa pledged Parliament’s support to the sector through both legislation and appropriation in key enablers like infrastructure and security to raise our tourism momentum.
Mr Tayebwa urged Ugandans to market their country wherever they go.
“This is our home, whether you want it or not we are going to be buried here,” He emphasized, adding, “Don’t hate your country because you don’t have any other country, if you go around painting a picture of Uganda, that is totally different and yet for you, you come and enjoy, it’s a point of concern for some of us, you can say whatever you want but know the limit and be the Ambassador of Uganda wherever you are and that is one way we can promote tourism in Uganda,” he urged.
He also called for an urgent end to visa requirements for Africans visiting the continent saying that;
“We can’t uphold such barriers to tourism and trade like unnecessary visa restrictions on ourselves and expect transformation.”
Dr. Sudhir, who is also the Honorary Consul Of Nepal To Uganda, attended the event in person to receive the award that was endorsed by Hon. Tom Butime, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
It should be noted that through his Ruparelia Group of Hotels, Sudhir has for decades played a key role in providing accommodation for thousands of tourists who come to Uganda every year.
In 2018, Sudhir offered to become a lifetime guardian for a chimpanzee at the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Lake Victoria.
The then Tourism Minister Frank Kamuntu said Ruparelia’s offer to be a lifetime guardian for the chimp demonstrated his attachment to tourism and conservation in the country.
Besides that, in 2020, tycoon Sudhir, who adopted a baby chimp, donated Shs 10m towards feeding chimpanzees at Ngamba Sanctuary during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The donation was received by Joshua Rukundo, the Executive Director Ngamba Island, who lauded the businessman for the generous contribution.
He said the donation would cater for the wild animals facing a tough time due to the COVID-19 lockdown and rising water levels then.
In February 2021, Dr Sudhir and family enjoyed their Janan Luwum Day at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), popularly known as Entebbe Zoo, where he reunited with Kabira the Rhino after 20 years.
On their visit, Dr Sudhir and family checked out Kabira, now aged 24 years, which is Uganda’s oldest male rhino named after Kabira Country Club, a property owned by the business magnate.
It should also be recalled that in 2001 Sudhir sponsored the translocation of the then three-year-old rhino from Solio Ranch in Kenya to the Entebbe Zoo.