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Tourism and wildlife resources Notes

Tourism is the practice of travelling for purpose of either pleasure or curiosity. Tourism involves movement from one area to another within or outside the country.

Uganda‘s tourist potentials

The potentials for Uganda‘s tourism industry are categorized as;

  1. Mountain and drainage scenery (landscape). This include physical features of Uganda such as;
  • Great rift valley/western rift valley and its associated features of escarpments like Butiaba and kicwamba, Rwenzori horst, rivers like Mubuku, lakes like George and Edward. These attract tourists to western Uganda.
  • Volcanic features of Mt. Muhavura, Elgon, and Moroto, Napak caldera, explosive craters of Nyungu, Katwe, hot springs of Kitagata and geysers.
  • Glacial features of Pyramidal peaks like Margarita, arêtes, glacial troughs like Lac du Speke, Lac Catherine, all on Mt. Rwenzori with activities of ice skating and mountain climbing.
  • Coastal features such as spits, cliffs and caves like on Kasenyi landing site on L. Victoria, beaches such as Lutembe, Lido, Aero and Botanic, on L. Victoria.
  • Blue water lakes of Victoria and Kyoga where swimming activities take place, game fishing, boat rides, etc.
  • Rivers such as Nile, Katonga, Aswa with spectacular attractive waterfalls of Owen falls, Karuma and Bujagali on R. Nile, Sezibwa falls, Siipi falls Kisiizi falls, etc.
  1. Wildlife (fauna and flora). These include;
  • Fauna, Uganda has a variety of wild animals which are gazetted into National parks and game reserves. Such parks include Mt. Rwenzori N.P, Queen Elizabeth N.P, Kidepo N.P, L. Mburo N.P, Mgahinga N.P, Bwindi Impenetrable N.P, Semuliki N.P, Kibale N.P and Toro N.P.

    The game reserves include Pain-upe, Bukora, Karuma, Matheniko, Bugungu, Kigezi, etc. there are also sanctuaries in Uganda such as Jinja sanctuary for hippopotami, Entebbe sanctuary, Bwindi impenetrable forest for Mt. golliras, Mt. kei in Arau for white Rhinos. Also zoos like Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre.

    Uganda has got avi-tourism i.e. bird watching with various bird species along Kazinga channel, Queen Elizabeth N.P, Semulik N.P, etc.

  • Flora, Uganda has got an impressive vegetation cover which attracts tourists from abroad. These include the dense tropical rain forests like Mabira in Mukono, Budongo, Kalinju, etc,

    Also the swampy vegetation along rivers like Mpologoma and Katonga, the dry savannah of Kitgum, Kaabong, Moroto and savannah grass land in the western rift valley all attract tourists.

  1. Climate, the tropical climate of Uganda in districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi has attracted tourists from abroad for sun bathing activities on beaches of Nabinonya, Aero on L. Victoria. Also tourists during November-February come for ‘refugee’ in Uganda due to the winter season thus benefiting from Uganda‘s tropical climate.
  2. Culture potential, Uganda is rich in cultural heritage of traditional dances of Baganda, dressing style of Banyankole, traditional dishes like ‘Oluwombo’, burial grounds like Kasubi tombs of Buganda kingdom which all attract both local and foreign tourists.

    Other heritages include Namugongo martyrs shrines in Wakiso, Nyero rock paintings in Kumi, artifacts, wood carvings and hand crafts all attract tourists.

  3. Historical attractions, these include Uganda museum in Kampala, Sango bay, Oruchinga valley, Bigobyamugenyi and Kagadi in Mubende, Lugard’s fort at Old Kampala all attract tourists.
  4. The equator, many local tourists and foreign visit areas in Uganda where the equator crosses for photographs and feel of the equator thus important tourist potential.

Map of Uganda showing its tourist potentials.

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Map of Uganda showing her national parks,

game reserve historical site and resorts.

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Status of Uganda‘s tourist industry

  • The sector majorly depends on wildlife of fauna and flora.
  • More game parks and reserves have been gazetted up to over 22 in total.
  • The sector contributes 25% of Uganda‘s export earnings per year and the number of tourists is constantly increasing per year.
  • The sector has employed many people over 70,000.


Factors that have favoured the development of Uganda‘s tourism sector
  • Presence of a wide range of tourist attractions which ranges from physical to human aspects. These include land forms such as spectacular lakes and rivers like Victoria with beaches like Lido, Botanical, and water falls on river Nile such as Karuma, Murchison, etc, all attract tourists.
  • The presence of fauna and flora within the forest reserves and natural forests like Mabira, national parks like Kidepo with different animal species such as giraffes, lions, zebras attract tourists thus development of the industry.
  • Historical sites of Uganda museum in Kampala, kasubi tombs in Mengo, martyrs shrines in Wakiso, Kinyankole dressing style, Baganda dances, all attract tourists to Uganda leading to development of the industry.
  • The climate of Uganda being warm and wet tend to attract people especially from European countries during winter seasons between November and February each year contributing a lot of income for the development of the industry.
  • Improved transport network of roads like from Kampala to Kasese, air transport of Entebbe international air port to Kotido air strip help to transport tourists to tourist potentials.
  • Well developed and maintained hotels and lodges like Mweya Safari lodge in Rwenzori N.P, hotels in Kampala like Africana, Sheraton, Equatorial, etc, which provide accommodation services to the tourists.
  • A wide capital base provided by the government of Uganda and foreign investors for establishment and maintenance of modern tourist facilities like accommodation, advertisement and transport facilities.
  • Well established advertisement network over local TVs like Bukedde TV, radios like Simba, news papers like Monitor and in magazines so as to inform tourists of what Uganda can offer.
  • Hospitality of local people to foreign tourists who come into Uganda for tourism purpose. The Baganda and Basoga are hospitable which encourage tourist to visit Uganda again and again.
  • The prevailing peaceful political atmosphere especially in central, East and southern Uganda which has attracted tourists from abroad and within to visit all tourist potentials throughout the whole country.
  • Availability of skilled labour produced by Makerere and other Universities and semi-skilled labour in the tourism industry to work in the hotels like Africana, game guides like in Kabalega N.P, transport tourist, etc.

Importance of the tourist industry to the economy of Uganda

  • Uganda has earned foreign exchange in form of invisible export from thousands of tourists who visit the country from Europe, Asia and from other continents due to her tourist potentials. Such income has been used to rehabilitate roads, set up heath units, etc.
  • The industry has provided employment opportunities to many Ugandans such as those working in Hotel like Serena, tour and travel agencies, game guides like in Queen Elizabeth N.P. This has earned income to workers and thus improved standards of living.
  • It has led to conservation of wildlife of flora and fauna through gazetting and restricting of areas such as Bwindi impenetrable, Semulik N.P, forest reserves, etc. this has helped to modify Uganda‘s climate by forests and protecting her heritage for future generation.
  • Tourism facilitate the development of important infrastructure such as air fields like Kasese air field to link Queen Elizabeth N.P, roads like Kampala-Gulu-Kitgum to access Kidepo N.P, health units, lodges like Mweya Safari lodge in Semulik N.P for tourist accommodation. These have led to the development of Uganda.
  • It has promoted and reflected the cultural heritage of Uganda i.e. historical sites like Bigobyamugenyi, museums like Uganda museum in Kamwokya-Kampala, cultural sites like Kasubi tombs, all protect Uganda‘s image abroad.
  • Tourism has led to development of the craft industry and agricultural sector through providing market to the products of such sectors like at the source of the Nile. This means provision of more jobs and income from craft industry thus improved living standards of Ugandans.
  • Tourism has led to diversification of Uganda‘s economy from over dependence on the agricultural sector. This has resulted into increased foreign exchange used to set up schools and health centers thus Uganda‘s development.
  • It has improved on international relationship between Uganda and the countries like Norway, Germany and Britain, where tourists come from. This has helped Uganda to become politically stable.
  • Training of skilled man power like hotel attendants, game guides, etc.
  • Government revenue through taxing tourist transport companies, tourists hotels, etc.
  • Growth of urban centers like Kasese town
  • Promoted environmental conservation through forest reserves, gazzetting of national parks like Kidepo.
  • It has promoted education and research in botany and zoology.

Negative importance includes;

  • Foreign tourists bring in Uganda social evils like homosexuality, promotes prostitution in small towns like Kayabwe and Nakasero which hinder Uganda‘s cultural heritage.
  • Tourism promotes terrorism as such people pretend to be a tourist leading to death of people as it was at Lugogo bombings.
  • Profit repatriation caused by foreigners like Madhvan group who invest in Mweya Safari lodge
  • Displacement of people to reserve parks and forests like in Kiruhura due to L. Mburo
  • The wildlife in parks destroys people’s property and leads to loss of lives.
  • Conserved areas for tourism habour and multiplies tsetse flies like in Queen Elizabeth Park.
  • The overgrazing in parks has led to environmental degradation
  • Encourages smuggling out of rare animal species and birds like parrots and monkeys from Bwindi

Problems facing the tourist industry in Uganda

  • Political instabilities experienced in Uganda for a very long time. Foristance the LRA and ADF scared away tourist from visiting Kabalega N.P and Queen Elizabeth N.P respectively. This also reduced on the total number of tourists in Uganda since they were scared of visiting the country.
  • Increased poaching in national parks and game reserves like Kibale N.P and L. Mburo N.P which has led to reduction and depletion of some animal species like white rhinos, elephants and hippos.
  • Population encroachment like in Masindi and Luwero on Kabalega N.P. the cattle keepers like in Kiruhura has encroached on L. Mburo N.P in search for water and pasture for their animals especially during dry seasons. All this affect the well being of wildlife and yet it’s the major tourist attraction of Uganda.
  • Inefficient transport network especially air and road transport, roads during rain seasons are impassable like a road linking to Kidepo N.P in north eastern Uganda, the air strips like Kasese have limited handling facilities thus affecting the industry.
  • Insufficient accommodation facilities of hotels, lodges and the well established ones like Sheraton and Serena are located far away from major tourist attraction. The available resorts are also too expensive discouraging local tourists.
  • Inadequate advertisement to outside world of the tourist potentials available in Uganda for visiting. Also there is inefficient local advertisement rate thus many people are green about the tourist potentials in the country.
  • Insufficient support from the government of Uganda to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) which is responsible for advertisement of Uganda‘s tourist potentials both to local and abroad, which explain the low development of the tourist industry.
  • Low domestic tourism due to poverty and ignorance of the locals, this has left tourism in Uganda dominated by foreign visitors like British, Germans, thus its low development.
  • Hostility of some tribes in Uganda like the Karamajongs who are un friendly to Whites and this has continued to scare away visitors to Kidepo N.P making the industry to lose.
  • Competition for foreign tourists with other African countries which has relatively similar tourist potentials like those of Uganda like Kenya has got relatively similar fauna, flora and climate. This claims a lot of tourists.

Measures to curb down the above problems

  • Re-equipping and rehabilitation of existing tourist lodges such as Mweya, Chobe and Paraa. Other resort centers should be constructed with modern facilities to attract more tourists into Uganda.
  • More training of labourers employed in the industry such as game wardens to fight poaching, hotel attendants to offer excellent service to tourists, so as to attract more tourists.
  • Extensive advertisement to the international world about the existing tourist potentials with an aim of making the outside people aware of such existing potentials. This will fetch a lot of visitors into Uganda.
  • The government has encouraged the development of the private local tour operations so as to provide efficient and modern reliable facilities in transportation.
  • Massive campaign and education has been launched targeting local people especially encroachers and poachers to avoid their acts and protect wildlife resource.
  • Privatization has resulted into an increased capital flow resource into the tourist industry. Also private Tours and travel agencies have helped to improve on the industry.
  • There has been a check on political instabilities in Uganda. Today the LRA and ADF rebel groups no longer exist and now tourists access the once affected areas of North West and western Uganda parks like Mt. Rwenzori N.P.
  • Anti-poaching units in the major parks in Uganda have been established like in L. Mburo N.P, and also strict laws dealing with encroachers on existing gazette areas have been enacted.
  • Population pressure which has caused encroachers on fauna and flora has been checked through family planning awareness especially to local rural people and also resettlement of people from densely populated areas to sparsely populated areas.


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