By Mike Ssegawa
Mr John Ssempeebwa is the deputy chief executive of the Uganda Tourism Board. Ssembeebwa is highly gifted in marketing strategies and his knowledge of Uganda, as well as global tourism opportunities is unrivaled.
For the past couple of days, he has been discussing on his social media pages the top 10 high return investment opportunities in Uganda’s tourism.
As most people think Ugandan business environment is doomed, Mr Ssempeebwa challenges them to try out tourism. I sought him out to help break down those investment opportunities open in Uganda that he believes have good returns on investment;
First, the tourism agency’s chief says, the opportunities divided between the demand and supply side.
The Uganda International Convention Centre
Ssempeebwa says Uganda needed a Uganda International Convention Centre to stimulate high demand for conference tourism. He says Kigali has already gone ahead with its own, yet, Uganda was better located to host several conferences that would also go ahead to promote the country’s other tourism investments. That is why he proposes the Convention centre to be located in Entebbe, a town gifted with lots of water, a resource that can be turned into a bonus for the city and country. Ssempeebwa says the Uganda International Convention Centre Entebbe would be fitted with exhibition stalls, meeting rooms, ball rooms, conference rooms and outdoor terraces. The idea is that when someone lands into the country, they don’t have to move too much, they do business and if they have an extra day on them, they can drive to Kampala and other places of their choice.
Many people think having high end hotels was the way to go, but, Ssempeebwa thinks Ugandans don’t have to dream of building castles in the air. He believes building small but high standard boutique hotels that can be used by Ugandans was more sustainable and made more business sense than rushing to pump money into facilities that Ugandans cannot afford to sustain, let alone, service if they got loans.
Ssembeebwa says that 15-25 roomed urban boutique hotels would go a long way to make money for Ugandans . He says they are affordable and accessible, unlike high end hotels. The exposed tourism promoter adds that Uganda needs small hotels that are themed, individual styled, intimate, high quality and offering personalized experience. He says these can be built by Ugandans who have actually built bungalows. The idea here would be converting those bungalows into urban boutique accommodation facilities with personalized services.
If you are in Kalangala, or such places that might need group excursions or people on personal adventures, backpackers are what these people need. People don’t have $100 to spend a night ,yet they have a lot of things to do across the country. Backpackers would offer affordable rates for these people and groups, yet, they would spend nights in secure and conducive places.
Ssempeebwa says there is also need for offering camping services and tents across the country.
The other area for investment is boats. There are very few luxury boats in Uganda, yet opportunities are many since Uganda has lots of water reservoirs. Ssempeebwa says construction of home boats for one to spend a night on water is another sought after adventure. That is on top of having different kind of boats for different purposes on water.
The deputy CEO of UTB told me that tourists who are into birding love to spend days and nights in the bush enjoying adventures with birds. He says building cottages in the bushes where there are birds to watch and birders book the places at valuable prices, is an opportunity that has not been exploited.
Cool island resorts.
In the same breath, Ssempeebwa says Uganda is ripe for cool island resorts for its own middle class and young couples that want getaways especially during honeymoons.
Fun in the Sun & Wild in the Water
Building swimming pools in Uganda is very expensive. It might be difficult getting one at less than sh200 million. The problem is having expertise in this area. Swimming pools can cost much less according to John Ssempeebwa. He says there is need for investments in swimming pool construction. He says there are even more construction technologies that can be shipped into the country to make this activities achievable for anyone who wants a swimming pool, especially at their small hotels.
Ssempeebwa says there are however numerous investment opportunities in water play/transport gadgets including trampoline slides, jet boats, quad skis/bikes, solar powered boats, fly boards, etc.
He recommends investors who are interested in barbeque, dining boats, personal water crafts, and kite surfing to come forth.
Ssempeebwa also says Uganda has lots of hot springs, yet, many of them are a turn off. He says hot springs would be a huge attraction to Uganda if they were made hygiene hot spring baths.
With a country blessed with so much water, almost a quarter of Uganda is water, Ssempeebwa says all that is opportunity for making money, if Ugandan investors opened their eyes. He says Ugandan waters need zip lines over water as a sport or for fun. He says the Source of the Nile needs investors into scuba diving so that tourists can experience the real sources of the Nile as the river emerges from the earth.
On top of that, he says our boats can cross borders , and water world cities like it is the case in Dar es Salaam and Mauritius.
Tomorrow, we shall bring you three more opportunities in Uganda’s tourism industry which investors can grab this year, according to tourism expert John Ssempeebwa, the deputy CEO of Uganda’s Tourism Board. For more information, follow John www.facebook.com/Ssempebwa