Tourism is defined as the commercial organisation and operation of holidays and visits to places of interest. A tourist is a person who leaves place A for place B which isn’t a place of his or her usual residence for more than 24 hours but less than one year. They should not have a permanent job in new place B irrespective of the skin colour.
For example, if I leave Kampala, which is my place of usual residence and I head to Gulu, I will be referred to as a ‘domestic tourist’. If Mr. Smith leaves the United Kingdom for Uganda – where he does not have a permanent job – for more than 24 hours and less than a year, we call him an ‘international tourist’.
That definition also applies to a Ugandan born living and working in the UK visiting Uganda for the same period as Mr. Smith.
In Africa, domestic tourism has been happening but those involved didn’t know they were domestic tourists. Ugandans for example have been moving around Uganda for many years spending over 24 hours in places they don’t reside and yes, that data hasn’t been captured well just like the international tourists arrivals.
I think the tourism players can play a role in educating different district leaders about the value of not only attracting spenders to their districts but also capturing data for use.
New York City, for example, makes over US$49 billion annually from tourism through the ‘I Love NY’ campaign which has been used for decades. This particular campaign targets both Americans outside New York just like it does for international travelers.
Major cities around the world have proper marketing strategies of attracting spending populations into their cities.
The top 10 most visited cities in the world, according to earthnworld.com are Bangkok which attracts 20.05m international visitors every year, London -19.83m, Paris-17.44m, Dubai- 15.79m, Singapore- 13.91, New York-13.13m, Kuala Lumpur -12.58m, Tokyo -11.93m, Istanbul -10.70m and Seoul – 9.54m.
Just imagine each of those international tourists spends say US$1000?
Do the math.
The Chinese tourists for example spend over US$2 billion on shopping jewelry, alone in Paris. I am sure you can imagine how much is spent on food, transport, site seeing, shopping on other items outside Jewelry. Let’s not forget the number of jobs the 17.44m international tourists offer to the French citizens.
In Dubai, we all know that one in every three or so buildings is a hotel, something we Ugandans must seriously think about and act on if possible. This is because they have massive potential in terms of attractions. Most of the cities listed up there are affected by extreme weather in most cases but that hasn’t stopped them from pushing a proper agenda of attracting spenders.
I have always wondered why every Kampala City leader (of course other small cities have leaders with similar mindset) talks about infrastructure and never the positioning of the capital city as a tourism hub of East Africa. Kampala has lots of history partly based on Buganda Kingdom which could be exploited in attracting spenders from within and outside Africa.
Kampala has big water front on the world’s largest tropical lake and also the second most important fresh water lake in the world which can attract a big population for marine tourism and general entertainment. I also believe that Kampala is the liveliest city in East Africa based on my traveling experience in the region.
People leave villages for Kampala not only for good infrastructure but for education, health services and job opportunities. We can create massive jobs especially for the youth by simply positioning Kampala as a tourism hub.
For those who don’t believe, just read about the boda boda tours in Kampala. Take time and interview the young men who have positioned themselves as boda boda tour guides and you will find out that they make more money than those employed in the cooperate offices including banks. These numbers will continue to grow with time but without proper focus on growing Kampala as a tourism hub.
Tourism is a powerful vehicle for economic growth and job creation all over the world. The tourism sector is directly and indirectly responsible for 8.8 per cent of the world’s jobs – about 258m jobs – according to World Travel and Tourism Council-WTTC.
Tourism also contributes to 9.1 per cent of the world’s GDP (US$6 trillion) and 5.8 per cent of the world’s exports (US$1.1trillion), 4.5 per cent in investment (US$652 billion). WTTC estimates that 3.8 million jobs could be created by the tourism industry in the Sub-Saharan Africa in the next 10 years.
The truth is that tourism has a much bigger impact in less developed countries like Uganda than it does with say France. This is majorly because one international tourist could have an impact to almost six people while the same will have an impact to only say 1 person in France.
I therefore think it’s time for our local leaders across the country to focus on positioning their areas for both domestic and international tourists. This way, they will attract both the dollars and jobs for their people, especially the youth who badly need these jobs.
The leaders will also collect more money if they focus on productive sectors such as tourism which will of course spur growth in other areas like manufacturing and agriculture. I would love to hear Kampala leadership discuss that promotion of Kampala as tourism hub of the region.
Amos Wekesa –is the CEO and founder of Great Lakes Safaris
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