The Dilemma of Travel in Uganda
One day (not so long ago) we woke up, and all that was being mentioned was tourism in Uganda, both by Ugandans and foreigners. Many travel programmes were set up – Ondaba, GoSeeUg, Cocktails in the wild, KoiKoiUg among others. To top it all, earlier this year, Uganda contracted three agencies to put tourism in Uganda out there. I’m guessing we paid lots of money so I hope there will be return on investment, assuming there were KPIs put in place.
They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Basically, the dream for Ugandans to travel Uganda more, and see Uganda for the true beauty that she is requires Ugandans to travel in Uganda, often enough to make it a habit for that dream to become a reality.
And anyone who has seen Uganda, in a photo or in person, wants to be a part of this awesomeness. For Ugandans to get into the habit of traveling, they would need to be a part of all these programmes. Every time.
I, however think that the programmes are set up in such a way that they fail the new found tourism dream. Although the programmes are open to everyone, they are primarily marketed on social media platforms, targeting the youth between 20-35 years. These are people that are either at university, unemployed, volunteering or in low paying jobs. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone.
Since July, RoundBob had a Cocktails in the wild to Lake Mburo that cost UgX 250,000/-, and KoiKoiUg went to the North for UgX 250,000/-. The Pearl Guide is planning a travel month for October (every weekend, UgX 200,000/- for three of the weekends and UgX 250,000/- for the last weekend).
If someone had decided to attend all these events, since July, that would be UgX 500,000/- for July, and UgX 850,000/- for the upcoming travel month in October – coming to a total of UgX 1,350,000/-. And that’s without adding miscellaneous costs. This, by many standards is considered expensive. And that’s before including basic needs like food, transport and rent.
You want to know why drinking is very popular in Uganda? One of the reasons is because alcohol has been subsidized to the most insane levels. There is a bar with a happy hour every day of the week. They make it easy to drink. Drinking doesn’t feel like a luxury because it doesn’t cost as much, at least not in the short run.
It’s a terrible example, I know. But look at it this way, if the option is between going on a trip or drinking at a bar, most people will always choose to drink at a bar. Why? Because it is cheaper. It’s not that they don’t like to travel and breathe in fresh air, or take amazing pictures for the ‘Gram, it’s that they can’t afford it.
And drinking is just a small piece of the puzzle. There are many other things that people need to do that will continue to take precedence over traveling within Uganda. And until these travel programmes are able to subsidize prices, the dream might just remain that, a dream.
You know how taxis, coffee growers have unions, I think a travel union (representing the traveler) would be nice. Seriously though, more affordable travel options for #500KTwitter would be great.