The Government of Uganda tourism development plan emphasizes nature-based tourism while paying less attention to culture-based tourism. Whereas nature-based tourism has played a fundamental role in boosting the tourism industry in Uganda - making it a major foreign exchange earner (1.6 billion USD, NDP III 2020/2021 -2024/2025), the country’s diverse cultures and languages have great potential to enhance the sector.
A study conducted by researchers from the School of Languages, Literature and Communication, Makerere University shows that every region in Uganda has rich cultural heritage to offer to tourists. The study titled; Many Peoples, Many Cultures, Many Heritages: Going beyond Nature-based Tourism in Uganda” emphasizes the need to equally prioritize culture-based tourism. “Culture-based tourism not only offers variety but is also vital in boosting the sector,” the study indicates. The researchers however express concern over the limited documentation of cultural sites around the country, a factor that undermines the tourism potential of the sites. “Tourism is not only about reduced prices to sleep in posh hotels but the unique experience in a destination. Interrogating and documenting the history, culture and heritage of Ugandans would largely improve the sector,” the study indicates.
With support from the Government of Uganda through the Makerere Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the researchers namely; Dr William Wagaba (Principal Investigator), Dr Enoch Sebuyungo, Dr Stevens Aguto Odongoh, Ms Margaret N. Mbalule, Ms Sarah Kawungezi, Mr Moses Oketcho and Ms Lorna Mwebaza in 2020 explored and documented the interesting history of several places and cultural sites in the country. The sites documented include the Uganda Martyrs Museum – Namugongo, Bwayise, Bulange in Mengo, Kabakanjagala Road (Royal Mile), Buganda Royal Palace (Twekobe) in Mengo, the origin of the name Entebbe, the Independence Tree and the Mapeera Tree in Kiggungu, Entebbe. Others include the Uganda Buddhist Temple in Bulega - Garuga off Entebbe Road, the Nile, the Bujagali Caves, Sezibwa Falls, Nyakohondokoro Cultural Tombs and Gault Tombs in Ibanda and Nakayima Tree in Mubende.
Disseminating their findings at Makerere University on 12th February 2021, the researchers explained that repackaging the cultural stories in both written and digital forms and translating them into international languages would attract more tourists into the country.
The researchers also emphasized the importance of foreign languages in boosting the tourism sector. “Because of the great contribution made by the sector to the national revenue and the livelihood of many Ugandans, there is no doubt that Foreign Languages specifically French and German are crucial in facilitating successful communication with international tourists to promote intercultural communication,” they noted.
The researchers also highlighted the potential of community-based lifestyles in enhancing the tourism sector.
Addressing participants at the dissemination workshop, the Head, Department of European and Oriental Languages, Dr Edith Natukunda - Togboa re-echoed the potential of Uganda’s diverse cultures in boosting the tourism sector. “Each and every culture has something unique to stimulate tourism if packaged well,” she said. She commended the researchers for the ‘eye-opening piece of work’ that will largely contribute to the improvement of the country’s tourism sector. She thanked the Government of Uganda and Makerere University Management for the support rendered towards the project.
Similarly, the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Josephine Ahikire applauded the researchers for the significant piece of work, underscoring the need to broaden the discussion around culture and the role of indigenous knowledge in transforming the economy.
The seminar was moderated by Mr. Jerome Ntege, a member of staff at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Participants included Makerere University staff and students and representatives from the tourism sector.
Full presentation with details on the origins and names of the tourist sites in the PowerPoint presentation herewith attached.
https://zoom.us/rec/share/YSBdXux48jH98EBntdJGwlULEquD_6fGi43KHCfGkuwTnt... Passcode: =W2kMGce