We must concede that Uganda’s has not yet reached the level which we, the radical tourism enthusiasts want it to be but we must acknowledge that there has been a sky rocketing rise of the sector in terms of both the number of visitors we receive, which of course directly translates to earnings which contributes to the funding of our National budget.
As far I remember, the earnings from tourism have risen from US$ 0 in 1990 to, more than US$ 225 million from gorilla tourism alone, not even considering other tourism activities, so I think we are eating big from our tourism which includes “safari”, “nature” and “culture”.
In 2011,there were 980 million international tourist arrivals but Africa where Uganda resides received only 50 million and to make matters worse, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritius received the lion’s share of Africa’s share according to United Nations World Tourism organization. So smaller powers in Tourism like Uganda received around 1 million! But because of the Arab Spring, these North African Tourism Giants (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) suffered a 12% loss and our sub- Saharan Africa gained 2 million tourist arrivals.
As we were fighting for this tiny 5o millions for the whole continent, Europe received 480 million arrivals, awesome!
The way Forward.
In general, the first thing to do is to ensure Safety, security and stability both on land and while in the skies.
Since most of our tourists fly using planes, we should fight to have more airlines that connect to major world destinations and also strengthen our safety at our airports and runways.
The other thing to do is improving our infrastructure and service delivery since tourists also use roads, hosipitals, cities, etc.
Tour Operators need to apply innovative approaches to managing the different types of African Tourism by going beyond the traditional safari to include new adventures through that creativity.
For example, lets start with nature tourism, which includes gorilla tracking / trekking and wildlife, which is our biggest strength. More than 700 mountain gorillas live in the Virunga Mountains that span Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Through the friend a gorilla initiative (www.friendagorilla.org), tourists can pay to track gorillas using web cams. It is also possible to track a gorilla on facebook.
Raising awareness of gorilla tourism through socials media may attract more tourists from different parts of the world.
Culture Tourism requires aggressive promotion.
Africa’s domestic tourism is still low e.g. not more than a half of Uganda’s Chief Executives have seen an elephant.
To encourage this domestic tourism, cheaper transportation rates and ease of travel have to be ensured by the concerned parties.
Evaluation so far.
Uganda was named number one destination for this year 2012 by lonely planet, the number one world travel bible because of our tireless efforts that we have managed to apply in order to make our country worth visiting.
On the Issue of Safety and security, both on land in the sky, Uganda is very safe ands secure since the Kony rebels were seriously defeated and they fled to the Central African Republic.
Although our airport (Entebbe International Airport) is not big enough and its runway is not big enough to handle larger carriers, it is very safe and secure since we have no terrorist activities and threats here in Uganda.
On the Issue of Infrastructure, Uganda has almost the best roads here in Africa, almost 80% of all the highways are well tarmac-ed and well maintained and all the other infrastructure is well planned and well maintained and it is in an excellent state.
However, we as Africans are trying hard in spite of shortcomings to make sure that we maintain Uganda as a number one travel destination of 2012.