Domestic tourism – Amos Wekesa.

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Amos Masaba Wekesa, is a businessman, entrepreneur and corporate executive in Uganda, who is the founder, proprietor and managing director of Great Lakes Safaris Limited, a tour operating company, in the African Great Lakes region.

A domestic tourist is one who leaves place A( A being Kampala for example) and goes to place B( place B being Gulu for example) and spends over 24 hours but less than a year. He shouldn’t have a permanent job there to qualify.

That can be a Ugandan or an Indian or European with a base in kampala and this domestic tourist doesn’t necessarily add extra forex in the economy but helps in re distribution of resources. He or she enhances entrepreunership as they do that.

How does that person re distribute wealth? That domestic tourist will need a car, which car will need fuel and even if he calls a friend and says hey, am off to Gulu. The spend on airtime is meant to be calculated under domestic tourism revenue. He stops a Kafu and buys cassava, he empowers Kafu dwellers, he reaches karuma, he buy Gnuts, he empowers the dwellers there.

Arrives Gulu where he has booked a hotel room, he will be empoweering the owner of the hotel, the cleaner of that room, the supplier of electricity, water, Linen, matresses etc then he heads out to dinner, tomato supplier, onions, rice, chicken etc are all beneficiaries of that guest. Government gets all types of taxes along the chain including PaYe, NSSF, local service taxes, about 12 taxes.

From the above definition, most of the people reading this post have been domestic tourists in one way or another. You don’t have to visit a national park to be called a tourist. But we also have a large number of people in kampala who have never cross Jinja heading to the East, never crossed masaka heading to the west, crossed Luwero heading to the North. Same people can tell you how they travelled around the world.

As families, plan road trips like from kampala to jinja spend a night there, head to Mbale spend a night there, head to lira, spend a night, all the way to Arua. Next time do the western route, leave kampala stay in Mbarara, head to Kisoro and stay there, head to kasese and stay there, spend time in Fortportal and head back to kampala. Such trips will offer your children a life time opportunity of learning their country.

The people in the Western world generally speaking plan far in advance, save little by little over years to afford such experiences. Of course here, we( not everyone but majority) want to wake up and do everything instantly. Out there people plan out there travels like 5 years in a row. They do massive reading about the destinations they desire to visit and they make possible ground contacts.

To them travel is a lifestyle that empowers them with knowledge and networking opportunties. Most of the foreign investors in and around national parks, came in as tourists, they saw the opportunties, went back home, sold their belongings and headed back to build a life here and they don’t go back.

Anyways, why are Safari lodges expensive according to many Ugandans?

I will give you an example of Primate Lodge kibale in kibale national park. Cost of building out there in the bush is massive, we pump water 3 kms from the site, we have to create a solar solutions( very expensive at the start), environmental impact assesment but thats after winning a concession. Preparing binds alone is a time consuming stuff.

Then I have to pay about usd 10,000( 38m) per year for ground rent, I pay usd 26( over 100k) for an occupied room per night, I have to pay staff, I have pay 18% VAT plus 12 other taxes. I have ferry certain foods from kampala. Meats have to be well prepared because my tourists( foreign or local) expect a very different standard of products. Remote internet, I will pay usd 500 to 1000 dollars per month etc

And yes, some people not all will ask you why you don’t change 100k( usd 25)? Then tourists have very different expectations, Ugandans will want TV to watch supersport meanwhile foreign don’t want to hear any noise. Plus many Ugandans not all spending outside Uganda comes with prestige….oh am in Dubai staying in a 5 star hotel spending usd 1000. Ask them for usd 100, guys will call you names and worse if you are a Ugandan like me. Some Ugandans come pay enjoy and even say thank you. We can see the difference.

A lodge like Elephant Plains lodge, you get an expert who understands how all those parts come together. You spend time putting it together beautifully and that takes heart to invest. You make mistakes, you re do until you get a product for a certain market. It takes you about 10 years to save for that while doing business. Am also a tourist sometimes and because I know what it takes, am slow in making some comments.

But anyways, you construct and pursue a specific market otherwise, am now considering making Mayonaise from eggs like President Museven advised..

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