It has been long time since I last wrote about tourism and yet it is my main stay. Tourism has also opened up a lot of opportunities for me of which I have exploited some and left others hanging.
Tourism is defined as the commercial organisation and operation of holidays and visits to a place of interest. Therefore tourism must involve a person and place.

Who is a tourist?
A tourist is defined as a person who leaves place A and goes to place B (a place outside their usual environment) for no more than one consecutive year and not less than 24 hours for leisure, business and other purposes. Its clear from the above definitions that a tourist isnt defined by their colour, height, financial status, etc. What makes tourism logical is that whenever a person travels, the tourist will spend money on different things. Yes, when Ugandans decide to travel to Gulu from Kampala for a friend’s wedding for example, they are called a tourist and they will most likely spend money. The moment friends in Kampala discover they are traveling to Gulu for a friend’s wedding and they phone relatives about their travel plans; that money spent on phone calls is counted under tourism domestic tourism earnings. They go to service a car as preparation for travel; that earning of the mechanic is counted under tourism earnings. When they go to a refilling station and buy fuel, stop at Kafu bridge for cassava, lunch stop, accommodation in Gulu, drinks, food etc.; it is all counted under tourism earnings.
For any country to grow in tourism, its own population must account for at least 90 per cent of the total numbers. For example, almost 500m Chinese travel within China every single year and about 55m foreign tourists which is about 10 per cent. It is therefore important for different locations/districts/towns to have a proper strategy of marketing which can attract spending numbers of people. The domestic tourists dont actually spend as much as international tourists but tend to keep a destination vibrant and still spurs growth of the visited places. The other advantage is that when the domestic tourists appreciate their own, they tend to market it to international tourists. The above increase the international tourists numbers which also increases a country’s foreign exchange and automatically creates jobs.
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) should have a strategy for both domestic tourism as well as an international one whose results we should demand from them. In terms of countries that spend on international travel, China is leading the way now because of the growing numbers and its citizens are getting richer. China (the Chinese spent over$260b abroad) has over 300m millionaires now and are looking for destinations outside their own country to spend money in. The Americans follow with expenditure above $110b abroad. When it comes to earnings America earns more than $220b from international tourism, followed by China $114b, Spain at over $56b, then France $45b and the United Kingdom over $45b. Tourism combined with sports earns the UK over 100b pounds annually and that’s why countries such as Tanzania and Rwanda are using European football teams to attract numbers into their countries which is good strategy. Uganda now earns about $1.4b annually which is very small money compared to the potential we have as a country.
All Uganda needs is a good branding and marketing strategy with the right and knowledgeable people in UTB and a budget of say $10m annually and we could earn up to $12b dollars a year with time of consistent work.
The writer is an investment expert
— amos@greatlakessafaris.com

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