The number of Ugandans engaging in tourism related activities and visiting the country has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as compared to the years before.
This has been attributed to several factors including; that Ugandans cannot afford to travel abroad for vacation due to financial constraints and flight restrictions, so they have no choice but to vacation here at home.
Also, hotel owners and other tourism industry players have been forced to reduce prices on accommodation, transport and other tourism activities that were rather expensive and discouraging many Ugandans from traveling in the past.
According to Parity Twinomujuni the proprietor of Hawk’s eye Campsite and Lodge in Bunyonyi, the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown was a rather difficult time having to maintain their facilities and pay staff throughout the pandemic considering the country was on lockdown and there were no visitors.
He however says things have changed since the transport ban was lifted in June 2020. Parity says they have received at least 50% increase in the number of Ugandans visiting their facility but the prices had to be lowered to attract the Ugandan market.
“The number has increased by more than 50% compared to the previous years. I believe the lockdown made Ugandans appreciate their country more, because the opportunities to go out reduced, but again the advantage is that when one visits, the activity is promoted even more. Because when one visits, they refer more Ugandans and the process continues” Parity says.
He added that sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook & Instagram) has helped them receive more visitors who are curious about activities they read about or see in pictures on social media.
“For those who have not been moving are now easily attracted on social media especially the young market. Because the biggest market now is of young people. They are very faithful and make their payments.”
Asked if the prices will remain just for the Ugandan tourists even when the pandemic is gone, Parity says they will continue to have packages that are friendly for the Ugandan tourists.
They have boat cruises, volley ball among other activities are
Currently, lodging at Hawk’s Eye falls between Shillings 150,000 to 200,000 for bed and breakfast one person and Shillings 180,000-250,000 for two people in a room full board.
Meanwhile, Parity says they also have a package for people seeking to pitch tents at Shillings 50,000 per night per person inclusive of breakfast.
Ugandans definitely love to travel, but are often betrayed by tourism industry players who prefer to market their activities and facilities to foreigners and also charge for their facilities in foreign currencies. With better marketing and affordable packages, more Ugandans will learn to travel and appreciate their country.