Tourism after Covid 19…
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) where Mj Safaris Uganda is a member has donated beans and maize worth sh25m to sustain the more than 1500 rangers spread across the country during the greatest emergency during the LockDown period while the country is combating itself against the Corona Virus Disease (COVID 19.)
“This will sustain them for a month as they strengthen patrols to safeguard the ten National Parks and game reserves in Uganda,” said the deputy executive director of Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) John Makomboat at the headquarters April 14. “This is a good gesture from AUTO and it’s members. The food donation will supplement the food/sauce requirements of their families for 60 days.”
Adding that tourism was the first victim of the COVID 19 as different sectors in the chain of tourism like aviation, hotels, and game parks have no revenue but are challenged to stay afloat.
“We expect tourism to be the last to recover after the spate of the virus because our source places like the UK, USA, and Asia have been hit badly by the virus,” observed Makombo. “They are also under Lockdown and this has affected their savings.”
While officially handing over the food, AUTO chairman Silver Kayondo lamented about the total Lockdown, in some places across the world that costing their members business valued in billions of shillings.
“We expect a ripple effect of this pandemic which is going to be felt in our midst very badly,” confided Kayondo. “Some of the 600, 000 staff in the industry have lost their jobs as bookings are canceled.”
Kayondo explained that much as there are proposals to promote an Africa to Africa tourist target, many of these countries lack the purchasing power to afford a holiday like their counterparts from the USA, EU, and Asia.
“It is a hard market to exploit because where they come from they also have the Big Five, Mountains and similar vegetation to what we have,” argued Kayondo. “All we have is a niche is the Source of River Nile, Murchison Falls, and Gorilla tracking.”
Contrary to expectations, Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lilly Ajarova has another perspective.
“While tourists from EU, USA, and Asia view Africa as one country,” contends Ajarova. “Our Africa continent counterparts continued coming to Uganda even when the entire world was preventing it because of the Ebola outbreak in distant Liberia and neighboring DR of Congo.”
Adding that, Uganda boasts a niche of bird watching, snowcapped Mount Rwenzori, and National Parks that have won accolades from tourism gurus like National Geographic, CNN, and Travel advisor in the recent past.
“Unfortunately while we are endowed with a population of 1.2b people the continent receives a disappointing 62m of them” cried Ajarova. “What we need is to boost these numbers to between 200-400m traveling within the continent.”
“It is one way of generating revenue without depending solely on tourists from the usual sources. The Tulambule campaign has gained ground but we need more guests to explore our niche tourism products like gorilla tracking, diverse culture, and more than 1000 bird species.”
For Ajarova’s dream to come true, the chairman UNWTO executive council Najib Balala there is a need for connectivity on the continent through open sky policy to increase travelers, trade, and investment.
“We should also address infrastructure development within Africa which includes: roads, marine, and the railway network,” stressed Najib. “Once these are addressed the continent’s economy is bound to be upscaled.”
All in all, Uganda remains the most ideal place to travel to in the entire great lakes region. It offers the cheapest gorilla tracking at $700 while a similar treat goes for $1500 in Rwanda. The challenging experience recently attracted a 95-year-old former Auditor General of Kenya Charles Njonjo. Out of the 300 of these primates, 160 are habituated and are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Forest. In these misty heights are 350 different species of birds and some 120 mammals.
Other attractions comprise more than 1075 different species of birds in Uganda the pearl of Africa known as the haven for bird watching tours, the Big Five found in the nine National Parks, Mount Rwenzori, and The Source of River Nile the longest in the world. Cultural tours across the country have a variety of more than 50 tribes with the individual: dress codes, food, music, dance, and drama. They range from the conservative Baganda in Central Uganda, the more conservative Karimojong in northeastern Uganda, and the Batwa pygmies.
Tourists fantasize about the tree climbing lions safari found in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the snowcapped tip of Mount Rwenzori. Then the boat safari to see Murchison falls how explorer Sir Samuel Baker saw it more than 100 years ago. The falls leaves many mouths agape with surprise.
Time spared for museums is worth the while in Kampala where the national museum is a window into where people were more than 500 years ago. Ssemagullu museum offers a wealth of information about the Buganda Kingdom and how it interacted with Arabs and Britons more than 700 years ago. Igongo in Mbarara is another gem not worth missing while in Uganda.
To whet your appetite, besides the continental dishes there are mouthwatering traditional dishes like Oluwombo (steamed chicken,) Rolex and smoked beef in groundnut stew. Most diners have no option but to borrow legendary Tom Sawyer’s phrase and ask “for some more.” Not to forget pork, goat’s ribs and chicken roast are evening delicacies one dares not to miss. Besides the people being hospitable, they love partying and adventure. Neighboring country residents are in the habit of spending their weekends in Uganda where Kiswahili and English are widely spoken.
After hosting the CHOGM back in 2007 the catering industry has since improved. Most parts of the country are accessible 24/7 by air or road transport. The joint East African visa gives one the opportunity to enjoy what Uganda offers and spice it up with the sandy beaches in Kenya and Tanzania.
When the world conquers Corona Virus the tour destination topping on your list should include Uganda Safari. Besides reviving Uganda Airlines, there are several airlines plying the destination from the USA, EU, and Asia.