Problems Facing Tourism in Uganda
Problems facing tourism in Uganda are the challenges or obstacles to the flourishing of the tourism industry in Uganda. Tourism in Uganda is one of the leading revenue earners to the country’s economy, contributing more than 7.3% of DGP. Uganda is a country gifted by nature with amazing and abundant wildlife including endangered species like mountain gorillas, many lakes and rivers, mountains, forests, cultural, religious and historical sites among so many others. Sir Winston Churchill named Uganda “The Pearl of Africa” for its amazing beauty and natural resources most of which are not developed or efficiently exploited despite the much efforts put in. Travellers who visit Uganda for a Uganda safari get to do a number of activities that have been developed over the years including mountain gorilla trekking, game viewing, chimpanzee tracking, boat cruises, mountain climbing, bird watching, rhino tracking, white water rafting, bungee jumping, nature walks among so many others.
Tourism in Uganda thrives on selling majorly wildlife and other attractions that include landscapes, people and culture, historical, cultural and religious sites among so many others. Uganda wildlife has been protected in various national parks and reserves all over the country, controlled and regulated by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Uganda’s national parks that tourists visit include Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Kibale Forest National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Semliki National Park, Mount Rwenzori National Park and Mount Elgon National Park. All these national park inhabit not only wildlife but also a number of other attractions that include plant life and waterfalls among others.
The problems facing tourism in Uganda have highly contributed to the slow pace of development of the tourism industry to its expected level. The problems facing tourism in Uganda are quite diverse and thus affect various aspects of the tourism industry. Below are the prominent problems facing tourism in Uganda;
- Limited marketing. Despite Uganda being The Pearl of Africa and gifted by nature with a variety of tourist attractions that could satisfy any tourist expectations of a true African safari, little or nothing is known of Uganda to large parts of the world. The Uganda Tourism Board, however, has tried very much to market Uganda to the world in various international tourism expos and events like INDABA.
- Stiff competition. Uganda literally sells the same safari packages with her neighbours especially Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda who actually market themselves aggressively and are thus known to tourists more than Uganda.
- Poor infrastructure development. Good infrastructure is still lacking in most of the country’s protected areas, including roads leading to the parks and other tourist sites. Most of the roads are quite impassable during the rainy season, thus resulting in less numbers of tourists visiting during the wet season. Some accommodation infrastructure in the protected areas are also not up to date or good enough, especially when compared to her neighbours who offer better roads and accommodation to their tourists.
- Poor service delivery. One of the problems facing tourism in Uganda is the poor service delivery in some of the lodges, hotels, restaurants and various areas where tourists visit like even forex bureaus and other areas visited for various reasons. Poor service delivery causes tourists to opt for other destination options. Poor service delivery is mostly attributed to employment of unskilled or little skilled personnel.
- Operational problems. It has been noted that some tour and travel companies are a cause of some of the problems facing tourism in Uganda. Some tour companies are not reputable enough to handle safaris with some tour companies not being licenced to even operate. These unlicensed and unethical tour operators overcharge or even defraud clients of their money thereby painting a rather bad picture of all tour operators in Uganda and thus affecting Uganda’s tourism.
- Limited information. Not much material information is available for tourists to familiarise themselves with various attractions that Uganda has to offer for them to think of planning a Uganda safari. They instead are directed to other countries with much destination information.
- Poaching is one of the prevailing illegal activities in the protected areas of Uganda despite the much efforts put in place by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the government who put up very strong laws that apply to anyone found poaching in the national parks and other protected areas. Poaching in the protected areas has led to a reduction of wildlife with some species getting extinct, thereby negatively affecting tourism in Uganda.
- Natural calamities like lightning, floods, diseases and storms are another of the many problems facing tourism in Uganda. Such natural calamities especially take the life of wildlife species of the country like the lightning that struck dead about 3 gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The threat of diseases like Ebola in the western part of the country creates fear for the animals especially the primates including mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park. The current Covid-19 pandemic that is sweeping the world cold has affected the tourism inflow since travel is much restricted in some parts of the world, thus reducing the number of tourists who would have otherwise visited Uganda if things were normal.
Strategies to improve tourism in Uganda
With the problems facing tourism in Uganda being clearly laid out and identified, there is urgent need to address them in order to capture more tourists and having the Uganda tourism industry flourishing and competing favourably with her neighbours. Great efforts have been made by different tourism stakeholders to improve tourism in Uganda. Some of the strategies in place or supposed to be put in place to improve tourism in Uganda include the following;
- Extensive marketing. For potential tourists to Uganda to know of Uganda as a destination, extensive marketing should be done so as to narrow the information and knowledge gap. Extensive marketing increases awareness and knowledge of destination Uganda to the world.
- Partnering with media companies like the BBC, CNN to increase awareness of destination Uganda. These media companies reach a wide range of people from all over the world that partnering with them would avail information about Uganda to many.
- Government funding to the tourism sector should be increased so as to facilitate infrastructure development used by tourists, as well as improve services and also market the country to the world.
- Training of service providers. This should be done to erase the mishaps and errors done by service providers who do not know how to handle tourists. Training service providers shall see an improvement in service delivery thereby leading to tourist satisfaction.
- Diversification of tourist products that Uganda sells could widen the range of activities that tourists do while on a Uganda safari.
The problems facing tourism in Uganda can be worked on, thereby improving the tourism industry in the country that it could generate more revenue for the government as well as avail various opportunities to the locals around and various beneficiaries of the tourism industry. Despite the problems facing tourism in Uganda, travellers still visit the country to do a number of tourist activities like gorilla trekking, game viewing among so many other activities. Interested in visiting Uganda? Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you put together a wonderful Uganda safari.