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Insight into Harnessing Social Media to Promote Uganda’s Tourism

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The digital age has come with numerous revolutions, discoveries and inventions which have brought an immense change to almost everything as concerns human interaction, communication, technology and travel concepts.

Social media has changed the way people communicate through supporting the concept of creating personal relationships as well as gather business contacts in order to dissipate messages rapidly.

Today, people can use social media to order merchandise, create and exchange information, pictures and videos in virtual communities and networks.

It is therefore important to note that Social media and tourism promotion could move perfectly hand in hand.

After deciding to travel, potential tourists use social media as a fact-finding tool when zeroing down to a travel destination, making “travel” one of the most shared topics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

With the campaign of ‘sharing your story’, people have learnt to share their experiences of the places they have visited, the food they love most, hotels and lodges they like and many others.

With social media, the world has become a global village because one will easily go to places that impress them right from a post or review posted on social media.

Other travelers can even plan the whole trip online using sites like Trip Advisor which has over 7 million locations, restaurants, hotels and tourism attractions and more than 490 million active users.

Content Creation

The content one posts on their social media platforms has the power to make them or their company a ‘hit’ online and could increase their following.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators, Jonathan Benaiah also a travel content creator, social media and tourism are inseparable in these times and that the way customers use it has influenced other sectors.

“I think Social Media and tourism marketing are like Nambi and Kintu; made for each other. And there are now many good ones that are still free. Using the ‘gram’, customers can find, share and review some of their best experiences in a few clicks or scrolls on platforms like Trip Advisor, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter and the giant, Facebook that has over 32% of the world’s population actively engaged every month,” he said.

He added that marketers and investors in this modern age need to be where their audiences are, and if it is on the gram (instagram) or on the timeline then that’s exactly where we will and must be.

Only then, Benaiah further noted, would you know that about 89% of the millennials will most definitely get travel ideas from the experiences of their peers, role models and people they trust on digital media. And that 92% of users trust earned media (reviews and word of mouth) above any other form of advertising.

“Definitely, businesses can’t play the blind eye here especially in a sector where customers aren’t impulse buyers, but will do a bit more digging up,” he said.

It is through social media that businesses, experts say, also learn about satisfied and unsatisfied clients every day and are able to respond.

A genuine and well composed response improves reputation in the minds of both current and future clients. The same platforms also offer a quick and free feedback option.

Travel Influencers

Make use of travel influencers, more so for destinations that still lack content. They will help set the mood for the destination because they attract their audiences to your destination.

Just make sure they have what it takes to do the job also you may consider checking out their social media platforms just to be sure.

According to Bernard Olupot Ewalu, a social media influencer, companies looking for influencers should be ready to spend on them in order to smoothen their executions.

“Also, when they come over to your places, give them as much information as possible. It is not enough for someone to sleep in your establishment, eat your food and write a story about it. That doesn’t cut it. Give them some ‘behind the scenes’ tours. Let them know some interesting information that any traveller would find fascinating,” he said.

Olupot also noted that companies should try as much as possible to embrace the digital era so that there is a quick exchange of information especially with the ‘unsatisfied’ customers who tend to get rowdy on social media.

“Get onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Trip Adviser, Foursquare Swarm among others. Be online and be responsive because people on the internet can be a little impatient. Don’t just check your socials once a week. Check regularly and invest in putting your establishment online. Focus on growing your business and have someone who is a ‘Digital Junkie’ to handle the digital business for you. Think about a website, client reviews, SEO optimization, and all other things that entail the Digital Landscape,” he said.

He also advised travel influencers who are looking for gigs to start by investing in themselves.

“Spend money traveling, enjoying your life and then documenting it. You will be sure to attract the right companies and they will be willing to fund some of your trips and even pay you handsomely. If you are not interested in traveling or spending on yourself then perhaps this is not your area,” Olupot said.

“It is very likely that establishments will believe that you are serious about your craft if they see that your pages are littered with stories of you moving around the country,” he noted.

Reviews and Recommendations

Reviews and recommendations are proof that the campaign is working and believe me when l say that recommendations sell like hot cake.

When I am planning to visit a place, l first check out the reviews read through and then l can make my final decision.

Search Engine Optimization

The Tourism Industry should look at using the Search Engine Optimization which will help you in increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. Invest not only in content on search teams but also quality and useful or what we may term was relevant content.

Make sure the websites have adequate booking facilities as well as packages for example foreigners can be provided with an option of paying using the Visa card while the locals can be given an option of paying using mobile money and cash.

 



Source – chimpreports.com

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Iran imposes 10-day restrictions amid sharp rise in COVID cases | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Tehran, Iran – Authorities in Iran have been forced to impose fresh nationwide restrictions after lack of control over travels during the Persian new year holidays last month led to an explosive rise in COVID-19 cases.

On Saturday, authorities reported 19,666 cases across the country, with the figure only second behind the highest single-day figure of 22,478 cases registered a day earlier.

Iran has reported more than two million cases since the start of the pandemic, including 64,232 deaths, 193 of those being reported in the past 24 hours.

Starting Saturday, all regions across Iran will undergo various degrees of restrictions based on how they have been classified under a colour-coded scale denoting the severity of outbreaks.

Iran’s coronavirus map looks like a sea of red as more than 250 cities, including all 32 province centres, are now classified “red”, indicating the highest level of severity.

In these regions, only essential services can continue while educational activities, dine-in at restaurants, cinemas, shopping centres, and a variety of retail vendors will have to shut down.

Travelling to those regions using personal vehicles will also be prohibited while up to 50 percent of staff will be allowed inside offices.

A curfew is in place across the country for private vehicles from 10pm to 3am.

However, a report by state television from the streets of Tehran showed traffic jams and people crammed in public transport on their way to work on Saturday.

“They say it’s closed but everything is open,” a citizen told the state TV reporter in front of a packed bus.

Fourth wave

Last week, Iran announced the country is facing a fourth wave of infections which would be the biggest so far.

The announcement came weeks after tens of millions of people were allowed to travel across the country and make in-person visits to family and friends during two-week holidays for Nowruz, the Iranian new year, that was celebrated on March 20.

On Saturday, in a televised address during a session of the national anti-coronavirus task force, President Hassan Rouhani said the main reason for the fourth wave is the large-scale entry of the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom through the country’s western borders with Iraq.

Iranian health officials now estimate that more than half of all cases reported across Iran are of the UK variant.

The president said massively increased shopping activity prior to Nowruz, in-person visits on the day of Nowruz, and weddings in the past two months were the other big reasons behind the rise. Nowruz travels “that were made without following protocols” also contributed to the numbers, he added.

Rouhani said on average only 56 percent of people are now following health guidelines.

“If more than 90 percent of people follow protocols, then we won’t have a new wave. Our healthcare workers are tired. Our society is tired,” he said.

Iran has imported more than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Russia, China, India, and through COVAX, a global vaccine initiative.

Three locally manufactured candidates are also undergoing human trials and five more are in the works.

But less than 1 percent of the country’s population of more than 82 million people has been vaccinated so far.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Iran unveils new centrifuges, civilian nuclear ‘achievements’ | Nuclear Energy News

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Tehran, Iran – Iran began feeding gas to cascades of new, advanced centrifuges and unveiled dozens of “achievements” to mark its national nuclear technology day in an effort to show its nuclear programme is peaceful.

President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday launched several projects across the country via video link in Tehran that was broadcast live on national television, and an exhibition of 133 technological innovations with civilian and medical uses was also unveiled.

The display comes after the opening week of negotiations in Vienna, Austria, to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers – ended on Friday on a hopeful note, and is slated to continue from Wednesday.

In Isfahan’s Natanz, where Iran’s largest nuclear facilities are located, the order was given to feed gas to 164 all-Iranian IR6 centrifuges, with 10 SWU – separative work units that indicate the amount of separation done by an enrichment process.

The IR6 was also deemed the most sustainably efficient centrifuge Iran currently deploys, which is slated to be mass-produced on an industrial level.

It was said to be able to produce 10 times more uranium hexafluoride (UF6) than IR1, Iran’s first-generation centrifuges.

“We can industrialise these machines without any reliance outside the country,” the engineer who answered Rouhani’s questions said.

Rouhani launched an exhibition of 133 technological innovations with civilian and medical uses [Iran President’s Office]

Rouhani also gave the order to begin feeding gas to test a number of 30 IR5 centrifuges and 30 IR6s centrifuges, numbers that could grow if they are successful.

Moreover, mechanical tests began on the top-of-the-line IR9 centrifuge that has a separative capacity of 50 SWU.

Also in Natanz, a unit to assemble and evaluate advanced centrifuges was launched, where the presenting engineer said more than half of all operations are currently industrialised.

The “terrorist move” to blow up parts of the nuclear facilities in Natanz last year in an attack Israel has been suspected of orchestrating did not stop the progress, the engineer said.

In Arak, the second phase of industrial production of deuterium compounds at the Arak Heavy Water Reactor Facility was launched by the president, who also oversaw the launch of a first-of-its-kind emergency unit aimed at treating radiation burns.

A series of achievements were introduced at the National Centre for Laser Science and Technology in the Alborz province, while the president next discussed advances at a national centre to research stable isotope separation.

‘Ill-placed concerns’

After the new projects were launched, the president delivered a televised address in which he once more emphasised Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, and railed against Western powers for acting based on the presumption that it did.

“These ill-placed concerns have created many problems for our people in the past 15 years,” Rouhani said, referring to multilateral sanctions imposed on Iran prior to its nuclear deal that provided sanctions relief for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Western intelligence maintains that Iran sought to weaponise its nuclear programme, plans that it abandoned in 2003.

President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday launched several projects across the country [Iran President’s Office]

Israel still repeatedly claims Iran is after nuclear weapons despite thorough inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Rouhani also harshly criticised world powers and the IAEA for their lack of assistance in developing Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme.

“We don’t owe them, they owe us,” the president said, adding they should have assisted Iran as part of commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Hours before the unveiling of Tehran’s latest nuclear advances, Reuters news agency cited a confidential IAEA report that Iran has produced a small amount of fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, containing 20 percent enriched uranium.

The IAEA reportedly said in its report that Iran aims to produce molybdenum, which has many civilian uses, including in medical imaging.

As part of the nuclear deal, Iran’s enrichment of uranium was capped at 3.67 percent, a limit that it started gradually scaling back in 2019, one year after then-United States President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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10 Myanmar police killed in attack by ethnic armies: Reports | Conflict News

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Fighters from an alliance of rebel groups reportedly attack a police station in a new escalation after the military coup.

An alliance of ethnic armies in Myanmar that has opposed the general’s crackdown on anti-coup protests attacked a police station in the east on Saturday and killed at least 10 policemen, local media said.

The police station at Naungmon in Shan state was attacked early in the morning by fighters from an alliance that includes the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, media reported.

Shan News said at least 10 policemen were killed, while the Shwe Phee Myay news outlet put the death toll at 14.

A spokesman for the military did not return calls asking for comment.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from neighbouring Thailand, noted the ethnic armies are some of the oldest in the world, having battled central government forces for decades.

“Since the coup, there has been a lot of talk about armed groups operating together but we have not actually seen it before. Today it’s claimed three acted together, joined forces, attacked this outpost manned by Myanmar police, killing a number of policemen,” said Cheng, adding the assault occurred over two hours early on Saturday.

More than 600 people have been killed by the military in the crackdown on protests against the February 1 coup, according to a monitoring group. As violence has escalated, about a dozen armed groups have condemned the coup-makers as illegitimate and pledged to stand with the protesters.

Civilian lawmakers, most of whom are in hiding after their removal, have announced plans to form a “national unity government” – with key roles for ethnic leaders – and are holding online talks about joint resistance to the generals.

Dozens of bodies

Meanwhile, reports from Myanmar say dozens of people may have been killed in a military assault on anti-coup protesters in the city of Bago. About 60 people may have died in the clashes in the city, about 60km (32 miles) northeast of Yangon, according to Radio Free Asia citing witnesses.

News site Myanmar Now cited a protest leader as saying dozens of bodies had been brought inside a pagoda compound where the military was based. Witnesses cited by both media outlets reported hours of gunfire that started early on Friday.

Protests against the February coup continued on Saturday in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Sagaing, Myeik and many other cities.

The military crackdown has also included reports of protesters being tortured in detention and harsh sentences.

The military issued death sentences on 19 people from Yangon’s North Okkalapa township on Friday. They were charged with beating an army captain, according to Radio Free Asia.

The military coup dismissed the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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