1. Improvements in transport and communication e.g. Better roads are being constructed leading to tourist attractions. In Uganda the Kampala- Kasese road leading to Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Comparing to the past decades, Uganda the pearl of Africa has presently shown progress in terms of tourism growth and development. The advancement in the tourism sector has been eased by the potential and exceptional attractions in all parts of the country, which attract millions of traveller different corners of the world. Similarly, the exclusivity of Uganda’s tourism is fortified by the unspoilt wilderness coupled with features like the endangered mountain gorillas, exceptional cultures, hospitable people, beautiful sceneries and other wildlife (flora and fauna) in all parts of the country. A combination of all these make up a full travel package making a safari to Uganda remarkable to all travellers.
Conversely to the improvements, Uganda’s tourism has not picked up as expected. It’s shocking that up to present Uganda is still known by internationals as a country of wars and dictatorship leadership. It’s been always a surprise to Ugandans while attending international exhibitions when they are asked about the past wars and dictatorial leadership. It’s shocking that people in further countries still think of Uganda as the country of Idi Amin; HIV Aids epidermis, wars and corruption among others which is surely contrary to what Uganda is in actual sense. This has created a negative international image/publicity about Uganda, which the government of Uganda and the responsible bodies has failed to rub off.
To retrieve from this, the Uganda government has been called upon to re-think its approach and reveal its uniqueness in terms of tourism safaris, which most travellers have not known about.
Looking at Rwanda as a live example, the country a younger tourism destination that has flourished through extensive marketing rubbing off the 1994 genocide that hit the country. The strong and extensive publications about Rwanda as the only place for the mountain gorillas, which has attracted many gorilla trekkers to Rwanda, not aware that Uganda is actually home to the highest population of mountain gorillas. It is through marketing that Rwanda has rubbed off the past negative image surpassing Uganda and other neighbouring countries in terms of tourist arrivals and tourism growth.
More still, Rwanda has accepted its limited tourism attractions hence prioritizing extensive marketing as the only way through which they can strengthen the industry.
For the case of Kenya, the country was hit by the unrestrained time in 2008, which put tourism on a halt. The government with the help of PR machinery reacted by providing updates on the situation. This, in turn, provided an encounter effect on all the media reports that tend to concentrate on only the negative things about the prevailing situation at that time.
Still, at the end of the civil wars, the government allocated more funds to the tourism marketing budget so as to revamp the efforts of promoting Kenya as a tourism destination. This gave a start for the recovery of Kenya’s tourism sector and the economy as well.
Contrariwise, Uganda has perhaps done nothing to re-brand herself from the negative publicity that the country has had internationally which is actually not the case. If we are to consider other countries that have been successful, nothing on earth is new. Everything has always existed before but is only redressed and then packaged to make it new which has not been a case in Uganda.
This has, therefore, stimulated the government and the ministry of tourism in Uganda with related bodies to turn the drawing table and make comparative studies to review and modify the strategies in relation to those that were adopted in the 1960’s all aimed at giving the country a competitive advantage.
Extensive marketing and promotion are highly needed in Uganda. This will help open up and unveil Uganda’s uniqueness to the potential travellers. It has been realized that the insufficient funds and the misplaced priorities by the government bodies in promoting and marketing tourism has been the major cause for the drawback in the tourism sector.
Similarly, Uganda is believed to have always relied on the handouts from donors which money is not sure enough to run the sector. Without extensive marketing, the incredible tourism products in Uganda will not be known worldwide. The many segments in Uganda’s tourism sector such as the Uganda wildlife education centre, Uganda wildlife authority, export promotion board, Uganda tourism board and the civil aviation authority among others should work together to promote worldwide awareness about Uganda tourism products.
Joint marketing and promotion of Uganda tourism products by the Uganda tourism board together with private sectors such as hoteliers, local communities and tour operators is highly encouraged. There is a need to devote more resources to the marketing and promotion of tourism particularly on the international front where per capita income is the greatest. Severe loss of market share, visitor dollars and tax revenues has been realized, caused by the continued elimination of tourism promotion by the government. The best examples f companies that have been successful in marketing include Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple from which Uganda tourism bodies should borrow a leaf.
Also, optimization of the tourism sector is anticipated to address the liquidation in facilities that had subsequently prevented tourism from realizing its potential. Equally, the private sector has gained confidence in the tourism sector’s abilities hence increasing their investments into the sector, an opportunity to accomplish what would not have been accomplished in fifteen years ago.
More still, continuous training of the existing and potential guides as well as the staff in the hospitality industry has been realized as very crucial. The well-trained staffs ensure quality service delivery to travellers in all departments hence a memorable experience.
Additionally, partnering with local media and non-government organizations is also very important. These help in promoting awareness and positive image about Uganda as the leading tourism destination offering the unbeaten kind of experience to all travellers. Building among the previously neglected small and medium tourism enterprises and emerging entrepreneurs is also recommended.
In addition, the provision of information to visitors that keeps them updated on the security situation help in improving their safety and security while in Uganda. Adequate facilitation of the tourism police under Uganda police is very helpful. Tourism police as well as the Uganda police help to effectively persecute cases in which tourists are involved as well as building confidence among the tourists.
Diversification of tourism products aimed at offering good potential for development is very important. These products include sports tourism, conference, incentive travel, cruise tourism and cultural forms of tourism. Diverse tourism products encourage various tourism activities hence attracting different kinds of travellers.
There should also be government support for investors’ coming up with products aimed at diversifying tourism products in Uganda. These products include lake victoria boat cruise among others. For those with a joint partnership with the Ugandans. Also, the involved Ugandans should be equipped with skills and technology, which help to boom the tourism sector in the country.
Similarly, the government of Uganda must support the private sector especially in marketing and promoting tourism products in order to out-compete other destinations. This has not been a case with Uganda’s tourism marketing board but is believed to be of great importance if put into consideration. Uganda has been investing less in marketing and promotion of tourism compared to other Kenya and Tanzania. In 2011/2012 financial year, Uganda dedicated the only 600usd for marketing which very less compared to Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania Rwanda spend significantly more on promoting themselves as a tourism destination and consequently boast far higher tourist earnings.
With all the strategies above put in action, increased tourism growth and development in is a great assurance.