When government launched Tulambule to boost domestic tourism through change in attitude

“Tourism is every one’s responsibility and therefore everyone should take keen interest in it,” Kiwanda Suubi, the former junior minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities said in 2017 as he kick started the Tulambule Wild tourism drive at Murchison Falls National Park.

Then, Kiwanda called upon all Ugandans to ‘visit and know more about the national parks’.

Tulambule, or ‘Let’s Tour’ in English is a government initiative aimed at driving local tourism. It was officially launched on September 23 2016 and has been supported by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as well as other private players in the sector.

After Kiwanda’s Murchison Falls National Park pronouncement, local tourists were expected to visit Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Mburo, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Semiliki, Kibale, Kidepo Valley, Mgahinga Gorilla and Mount Elgon national parks.

The number of local tourists from that particular leg of the tour are still scanty.

In November 2018, Kiwanda launched another drive dubbed ‘Digital Tourism Campaign’. Just like Tulambule, this was also aimed at increasing the number of local tourists.

This, Kiwanda said would enable the Ministry reach their set target of four million visitors by 2020 from the previous 1.8 million. Socialite Zari Hassan was quickly signed up as an ambassador.

Amidst tight security, she was taken to Murchison Falls, where she captured and shared each moment on her various social media pages.

Another weeklong Tulambule Ne Quiin campaign in eastern Uganda, featuring Miss World Africa, Quin Abenakyo was also organised. She was however, replaced by Anitah Fabiola and Miss Tourism Margaret Kankwanzi.

Apart from Tulambule, several other private players such as Roast and Ride, TourList, Take a Break, Cocktails in The Wild among others, are engaged in promoting local tourism.

The numbers.

According to the World Tourism Organization, a tourist is anybody who moves from their usual place of residence to another and spends at least 24 hours there but not more than one a year.

Uganda realizes at least Shs10.2 trillion (USD2.7billion) in terms of foreign exchange earnings from tourism, with most visitors coming from Germany, the United Kingdom and North America.

According to Kiwanda, 2018 was so far the best tourism year as Uganda registered 1.85 million tourist arrivals through Entebbe International Airport as per Civil Aviation Authority figures. Tourists who arrived through other entry points into Uganda such as Mpondwe, Busia, Malaba, Katuna and Nimule are not accounted for – just like the numbers of locals who have embraced the various campaigns to visit Uganda.

Lily Ajarova, the executive director of the Uganda Tourism Board says the UTB has just instituted a monitoring and evaluation system to track those numbers. “There is no data from before,” the UTB Chief Executive Officer said, when asked about the number of ‘local tourists’ ever since Tulambule and other ‘Tour Uganda’ campaigns started.

“What I know though is the number has significantly gone up. For example, over the Easter period, there were many Ugandans who participated in game drives through Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks, that some could barely get accommodation in or near the parks. Kalangala too, was full of visiting Ugandans.”

One of those that has embraced local tourism is actor Richard Tuwangye.

A founding member of TourList, Tuwangye organises quarterly gateaways across the country with family and friends.

“Simply, the idea was that everyone should have a list of places they desire to visit in their life time, whether domestically or beyond the borders,” he said.

So far, they have been to Kalangala, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo and Sipi Falls among other enchanting sites.

But he says he has not even covered quarter of places of the places he intends to visit in Uganda.

“It’s a long list but the icing on my tour cake would be Mount Rwenzori and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where I hope to hug a fellow gorilla as well as some Chwezi Museum in Kasese,” he says.

What is being done

According to Ajorova, the tourism industry in Uganda contributes valuable revenue through value chains such as tour companies, hotel and accommodation service providers, restaurants as well as transport.

And in a bid to grow local tourism, UTB and other industry players have provided special rates to Ugandans at the destinations.

For example, entrance into Queen Elizabeth National park for game drives is Shs20,000 for locals while foreigners will part with USD40 (Shs151,045) to access the same facilities.

Elsewhere, locals will pay as little as Shs5,000 depending on the season.

Also, UTB has increased education and sensitization of the public through the media both main stream and social, Ajarova says.

“Right now, it is majorly about wildlife,” she said in an earlier interview.

“But there is a lot more we have to offer such as cultural tourism. For instance, the experience you will have with people in Kisoro in southwestern Uganda is different from the Banyoro in mid-western Uganda; or somebody in Arua in northwestern Uganda, or someone in Karamoja in northeastern Uganda. The opportunities are enormous around culture. We are also pushing for agro-tourism where one can experience milking cows or picking coffee.”

Challenges

Eric Ntalo, a tourism enthusiast believes more Ugandans would have embraced ‘Tulambule’ but for ‘Dollarisation.’

“Yes, there are many Ugandans that would like to visit say Bwindi, only to be charged in dollars,” he says.

Also, he lists limited promotion and accessibility to some of Uganda’s tourism sites as hindrances to growth in numbers of local tourists. 

His submission is reechoed by Tuwangye.

“I usually look out for the seasons that are low on foreign tourists. Chances of getting wallet friendly packages are high then,” he says, a thinking shared by many would be tourists.

But Ajarova believes not all hope is lost.

“We shall create more awareness to encourage Ugandans to visit and enjoy the heritage they have. We are going to come up with some packages where some people are going to be ‘pushed’ in a way to travel,” she shares.

All that needs to be done is to change the ‘wrong attitude’ of Ugandans towards touring their own country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *