Familiarisation trip shows tour operators new product ideas for tourists

Oct 24, 2014

Tour Operators listen to a guide from the Rwenzori Mountaineering Services about what it takes to climb the mountain and the other things to see in the Rwenzori National Park, information they could share with their visitors (UNDPUg 2014).

Fort Portal - Fifteen tour operators have been taken on a familiarisation tour of Western Uganda areas of Kabarole and Kasese districts.

The familiarisation tours popularly known as fam-trips are one of the mechanisms to increase business linkages between local entrepreneurs and Kampala-based tour operators, additionally, they are intended to increase their awareness and knowledge of the products they market to international tour operators who are based in the core tourist markets.

“The key thing about the fam-trips is to step outside the usual and introduce tour operators to community initiatives which are supporting the local people and also match the desires of travellers,” Anne Maria Makela, the UN WTO Technical officer who organised the trips said.

She added that these trips are also intended to improve and develop tourism products based on tourism needs and widen the packages to include experiences that provide tourism linkages between small enterprises and the bigger one hence leading to poverty reduction.

“My motivation for joining this trip was to find culture related products that are different from the usual and cannot be found in the other East African Countries. I think we have seen a few different ideas,” Sam Makanga of Prime Safaris and Tours Limited said.

Another operator, Doreen Kajumba Ouchoro of Tooro’s Pride said she had received several requests from tourists coming from as far as Denmark who were interested in adventure and culture, “the trip has been a good opportunity for me to pick a few ideas on what I can market to them,” she said.

Jacqueline Kioko of Panari Safaris said she was happy to visit the regions and experience the products that she is always marketing, “Now I can sell what I have seen and experienced.”

Ms. Makela said that the tour operators were selected based on a few criteria including having a pro-poor business approach that supports communities, their product portfolios include community encounters, work with core markets in Europe, America and the Gulf and most of all have shown active interest in participating in the projects workshops and programmes both in Kampala and the regions.

She added that Western Uganda was selected because it offers a wide variety of tourism experiences including; wildlife, bird watching, agro-tourism, encounters with local communities, mountain hiking and mountaineering among others. The region’s most popular sites include Kibale National Park, Semliki National Park and Wildlife Reserve and the Rwenzori National Park, which attracts a lot of mountaineers who want to reach Mountain Rwenzori’s highest peak, Margharita.

The trip also included journalists and tour operator associations who are all key in promoting the tourism sector to both Ugandan and other foreign visitors.

Tourism is one of Uganda’s fast growing sectors bringing in USD2bn dollars in foreign currency and surpassing remittances from abroad. The tour is part of efforts by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote this sector through the Inclusive Markets in Tourism project. The project supports the initiation, facilitation as well as establishment of backward, forward and horizontal business linkages in the tourism sector in western, south-western, and south-eastern Uganda. 

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