Oil and Tourism discussion – 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.

Before I write something about the above subject, I want to say, just over a month ago, I was asked to be a member of the board Uganda European Union business forum.

The board has 3 business people who are Patrick Bitature, Barbra Mulwana and myself and it’s the first time this has happened. The formation of such a board to discuss opportunities both ways.I last pushed for a responsibility while at St. Peters college, Tororo in 1995.

We had started push and discussing some useful ideas in as far as tourism and export based agriculture but Covid19 knocked on our doors. I had suggested a few good ideas that I will share with time.

While in school, being a leader came with its advantages and coming from a home like mine then, it made a lot of sense. It has of course helped me a lot in dealing and managing people.

Right now, one must explain to me why they want me involved in some sort of leadership. I have never asked anybody for a vote for a position in tourism, not at all. If someone says, I have, they will be lying.

Anyways, been engaging EU in the background with my colleagues Elly Karuhanga, Patrick Bitature and Babra about the possible support to the tourism industry. I have been very clear, we don’t need handouts, we need resources we can pay back with lower interest rates and grace period of at least 2 years.

We have engaged CEOs of Associations of Uganda tourism operators and Jean Byamugisha of Uganda Hotel owners associations. I participate in the meetings mainly to share my experiences, knowledge etc. Jean and Gloria Tumwesigye have done a good job in providing information.

I would like you Hotel owners and tour operators to make sure we get more useful information passed on to both Jean and Gloria. We want to know the magnitude of the financial challenges. We are involving Uganda Development bank in our discussions. The resources we are pushing for aren’t for loan repayment but to help with recurrent costs during this trying time.

Anyways, back to tourism and Oil and like I said earlier, am always confused about Mzees stand in as far as tourism is concerned. After the statement on tourism, I switched off and went to sleep but kept thinking about it before real sleep came in play.

Then I see lots of debate on tourism against Oil this morning on my wall. Guys, Oil makes the money but tourism provides real opportunities including jobs. Oil can be a very good discovery for a country especially when leadership appreciates growth of that same country.

Dubai is such a great example. Dubai’s wealth was transported on donkeys at the start of 1980s. Emirates started in 1983 as Uganda airlines had operated for almost 8 years. But when they discovered Oil, they quickly thought about an oil free Dubai.

The leader created a team of competent individuals who planned an oil Dubai. They came up with 3 sectors mainly and they are tourism, real estate and Finance. Today Dubai depends on Oil only 5% and going down as a contributor to their GDP.

I still believe that with the resources we have had, we would have done well in both export based Agriculture and tourism already but it’s the lack of good will in these particular areas that have let us down.

Am hoping that with the coming of Oil money that’s if it comes, we shall focus long term sectors like export baised agriculture, Tourism and manufacturing…..

Good day

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