By John Ssempebwa
Tourism creates jobs and is probably the only way Uganda can significantly decrease its trade deficit [the difference between expenditure on imports and earnings from exports] in two years. Everytime a tourist visits one of our many attractions, nearly a million Ugandans earn money – Gas companies and stations, airtime companies and vendors, hotel owners, boda bodas, farmers, agro dealers, tour operators, entertainers, newspapers, rolex makers, restaurants, detoothers, Namawojjolo chicken roasters, etc – everybody wins! Whatever EVERYBODY does or says greatly determines how well we do in tourism!
Whereas tourism is everyone’s business, not everyone fully appreciates or acts like they fully appreciate how tourism works! That’s why a newspaper publishes an alarmist story and scares aways its own readers [tourists], a politician owning a gas station leads a riot, successfully scares away visitors and loses sales, a politician warns his own people against practicing a centuries’ old practice that attracts millions per year! A man shoots down a bird – not knowing millions travel to watch flying birds! A hotel employee mistreats a tourist, a Ugandan working for a telecom or fuel company rubbishes his own country, scares away visitors that contribute to his/her salary – etc; there are so many examples.
UNLOCKING or, Raising Ugandans’ knowledge levels and understanding of how tourism works is now our key priority. Gender activists called it mainstreaming – at that time when men did not appreciate gender equality – so its time for TOURISM MAINSTREAMING from Agriculture, to Police, to Opposition, to Cultural Leaders, to Religious Leaders, to Sports Fraternity to NGOs – to everybody. ITS TIME TO PRIORITIZE TOURISM, ITS YOUR BUSINESS – MIND YOUR BUSINESS.
This was first shared on John’s Facebook page.