It has been noted by many in the Uganda tourism sector and by the Uganda tourism board that tourists on Uganda safari are not quite getting the entire Ugandan experience and not spending as much on all things Ugandan as they expect to. This is because tourists cannot find quality Ugandan artifacts or exhibitions and activities to spend on aside from the traditional tourist activities such as white water rafting and gorilla trekking. Tourists have been known to spend as little as 40% of their expected expenditure. This in turn means that the tourism industry is losing out on 60% on average per tourist.
Uganda’s local traders seem to have failed to impress the tourists with their merchandise either due to lack of originality, uniqueness or quality, and so artisans from other countries are the ones getting the tourist market in Uganda. There are artisans from Kenya, DRC, and South Africa who have established themselves as having good African merchandise that is more appealing to tourists than the Ugandan crafts.
In every part of Uganda, tourists merchandise seems to be the same, there is definitely a need to customize these artifacts and activities to location, so that the tourist experience differs from place to place. The artisans and players in the tourism industry need to be sensitized about the changes they need to make to actually capture the tourists interests, and earn that much needed money.
Tourists have been known to buy local artifacts such as paintings, shoes, jeweler, bags etc as keepsakes or momentos of their trips to Uganda. The locals however are not quite meeting this need when it comes to quality and originality in the merchandise, giving room for foreign artisans to gain from Ugandan tourism instead. This has necessitated Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Tourism Board to set up a team to sensitize people about more effective ways of capturing the tourists’ interest.
UTB has set up a team tasked with creating a new kind of thinking in the Uganda tourism sector. The team is mostly made up of people from private sector and corporate background which differs greatly from the past teams which were mainly made up of civil servants. For this new initiative to be a success UTB needs more people with an entirely different perspective and direction from what they have been working with. It will need widespread sensitization of Ugandans, especially those that are active in the tourism sector in any capacity to enrich the tourist experience. Stakeholders of Uganda Wildlife Authority, and tour operators would do well to be part of this new wave that is about to sweep through Uganda’s tourism industry.
Uganda is blesses with such amazingly beautiful landscapes, majestic mountains, diverse wildlife population, various bird species which all come together to form the gem that is the pearl of Africa. A Uganda safari is a trip worth making, and should be an unforgettable experience, right from the friendly people, to the game viewing, to the gorilla tracking expeditions, or white rafting adventures, to the cultural and traditional displays, and art and crafts. Hopefully UTB will be successful in revamping the tourism sector of this country.