By Titus Kakembo
IN a bid to make Uganda a preferred destination for tourists, the Ministry of Tourism is in advanced stages of professionalizing the chain of service.
More than 60 tour guides were cautioned about East Africa having similar attractions but had the challenge to make their client’s trip enjoyable and memorable.
“A tourist spends more hours with you,” tipped the acting tourism director Grace Mbabazi Aulo.
“It is not enough telling the tourist that is an elephant or a shoe bill. Verbally take them to its habitat. Tell them about how the huge animal mourns its dead members of the family and a good memory. A weaver bird’s love life can make good listening.”
“The more interesting you presentation is,” added Awulo “the longer our guests stay and spend more vital foreign currency. The forecast expects 1,907,000 arrivals spending sh3,767 billion. This is good for you and the country as well.”
A facilitator Anne Awori encouraged the participants to run away from conventional ways and give tourism freshness.
“Learn to think out of the box,” Awori told the guides. “Read about everything. Have information on your fingertips. Learn to package your product in different ways. The way you handle and communicate to diplomats is not the same way you treat students. Brace to deliver services to client having leisure, recreation or on holiday.”
The tour guides pose for a photo at Uganda Museum after graduating. Photo by Titus Kakembo
Awori insisted that tourism is not strictly for moneyed Europeans but domestic travellers as well. She said to cut costs, a team could visit Entebbe from West Nile and opt to travel at night and tour the UWEC, Uganda Museum and the Uganda Martyrs Shrine at day time.
“Then board and travel back at night,” said Awori. “This is modern adventure. You have to go places and people.”
The president of Uganda Tourist Association (UTA) Herbert Byaruhanga did not spare participants the barbs.
“This is a very sensitive industry,” cautioned Byaruhanga. “We will not tolerate, among the 500,000 employees in the industry, those unscrupulous fellows who steal laptops, cameras and smart phones of their clients. You risk having your license cancelled if you do not adhere to strict discipline.”
“We need the entire chain of service providers perfected from the moment a tourist lands at Entebbe International Airport till he or she gets to Kidepo Valley National Park. The more reason hotels are being graded. This will enable guests know what to expect when booking into a lodge.”
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Tourism industry goes professional