Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tourism: Murchison Falls

The last couple days, our group went camping at Red Chilli North in Murchison Falls National Park. We went on a game drive safari looking at elephants, giraffes, monkeys, warthogs, hyenas, various birds and antelopes, and even one female lion. We sat on the top of the tour busses taking pictures, soaking in the environment, and tooling around the (what seemed like) never ending park. Although we would all agree that we're  pretty sore from sitting on the "seats" (which were just bars on top of the bus) for four hours, I think I speak for everyone when I say that our cameras were filled with pictures and our trip yet again exceeded our expectations. We also went on a boat tour down the Nile observing aquatic animals such as hippos, crocodiles, and snake birds, and we even got a fantastic view of the beautiful Murchison Falls from the boat. The next morning we hiked around the Falls and got an even better view close up! We then packed into our busses and drove to a hotel for lunch, still sweaty from the hike, before making the four hour trek back to our hostel in Kampala. Overall, it was an exciting mini vacation within our vacation, and we got to experience many things unique to Uganda.

I was thinking about tourism while we spent the weekend at the park. What kept running through my mind was how Uganda never seemed like a tourist destination to me, but there are so many vibrant tourist destinations throughout the country that really give a taste into the rich and diverse culture of Uganda. Even 3 weeks ago, I never would have thought to promote the tourist industry in Uganda, but now I realize that tourism creates jobs and brings in revenue to Uganda. Creating jobs for Ugandan citizens such as managing, cooking, cleaning, driving, and all other things involved in a tourist resort allows people from all different disciplines to obtain a steady income. This income will in turn be spent in other markets and industries, which will help to develop the economy. Why do you think it's common for people to come to Uganda to volunteer, but not to tour? Do you think that tourism would help the economy more than volunteering would? What things could Ugandans do to promote tourism for their country?





8 comments:

  1. HI! great reflection Ellie! In response to your first question, I think that a lot of the times in the U.S. , we have a rhetoric that portrays all of Africa as some needy country. I witnessed this when talking to some Ugandan teenage girls, and they felt powerless to change their own situation and felt that only "white people knew the answers". The idea that Ugandan's are helpless reduces them of agency and diminishes how capable they truly are, which shows much larger issues at play. Anyway, I think people don't realize how beautiful Uganda is because all they hear about is how much help they need, which is really not beneficial. In fact, I think tourism is one of the best ways foreigners can help a place as it boosts their economy.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your post - great job Ellie! I agree with Sarah-Rose that there is a misconception in the U.S. that African countries like Uganda need foreign help. As we have discussed on this trip, true sustainability cannot be attained through outsiders coming in. One quote that really stuck with me is, "instead of people coming in to develop Africa, Africa needs to develop Africa." Tourism is definitely an industry that Uganda has room for growth in. With such a rich culture and environment, the promotion of this industry would result in economic growth and aid in sustainable development.

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  3. Nice recountation of our weekend Ellie, but I will disagree with you on your point that tourism is not as frequent in Uganda than volunteering. Uganda is called the Pearl of Africa because Uganda is a tourist attraction. The Daily Monitor has an article that says that some of he growth in Uganda GDP from 2014/15 is because of the rise of tourism. (http://www.monitor.co.ug/Business/Tourism-contribution-economy-rises/688322-2898730-ewbb1e/index.html) At Murchison, the guide explained to me and a few others that 95% of their revenue is from international visitor rather than in country visitors. I think that Uganda could promote their attractions more for non Europeans and non-Middle Easterners by creating more connections with major U.S. companies and U.S. airplane companies (in order to create more flights to Uganda making it more accessible.) But, as we see living in Red Chili is that Europeans and people form the Middle East and India find Uganda a popular tourism attraction.

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  4. Great post Ellie! I really enjoyed listening to your perspective on tourism in Uganda, and I would have to agree that although I knew Uganda was "the pearl of Africa," I didn't realize its tourism potential until we arrived in Murchison. I think that Uganda should advertise its tourist destinations more to a variety of countries because not only does it create and maintain many jobs, but also using the environment as a resource instills in the tourist a more respectful attitude towards conservation. I know that for me, driving around on the top of the safari vans and seeing how the animals roam around so naturally within the open savanna made me think about the consequences of our environmental actions and has made me more passionate about decreasing our footprint on the world, so that places like this can continue to exist for many generations to come.

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  5. Great post Ellie! To answer your first question, I think the reason why many people come to Uganda to volunteer and not to tour is because through the media countries in Africa are seen to be full of poverty, disease and hunger. I remember when I was little I saw this commercial for a nonprofit organization that was raising money for hungry children in Africa. To persuade people to donate to this cause the organization used pictures of skinny sad children accompanied by soft music in the background. When people hear about poverty they feel the need to help out. This state of mind is called the savior complex, a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. I think a lot of people come to Uganda because of this reason.

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  6. Thank you for your post! This past weekend was a wonderful experience and I appreciate your recount of all of the activities we were able to partake in. I would agree that from an outsider's perspective it seems to be that Uganda is less of a tourist destination. For those in more westernized countries, including myself, it tends to be seen that we need to 'fix' or 'save' those living in developing countries instead of going to enjoy what attractions are offered. This might be why it is more common to hear someone going to Uganda to volunteer rather than for vacation. There are a lack of resources and funds and while many other countries might be facing challenges as well, Africa in general, is consistently highlighted. I actually think volunteerism has a way of promoting tourism because no matter what might bring people to this country, something could convince them to stay or return in the future. Also, I think by promoting more volunteer, internship, and residency programs, Uganda could see benefits across all areas, including tourism.

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  7. Love the post Ellie! I too did not realize the potential of the tourism industry in Uganda. In regards to your first question, I think it kind of goes back to the savior complex in all of us. We hear Uganda, we think Africa, and all we can see is a developing country. I know that at first I was thinking, "Let me help this country," but after our time there, I realize the help I was imagining is not the help they need. In regards to tourism, I think that there is not much advertisements in the U.S. for visiting Africa, and most people's dream vacations are Hawaii or Europe. I think advertising could really help the tourism industry in Uganda explode, and with that would be the creation of more jobs. It could definitely help with the sustainable development goals of no poverty and economic growth.

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  8. Great post Ellie! I would also have to disagree with volunteering being more popular than tourism, it would seem that tourist attractions generate a significant amount of revenue. The expansion of the tourism industry, however, is definitely a possibility. In order to promote tourism, I think I would begin by working with travel companies and airlines to find ways to lower fares to Uganda. If the country was more accessible by plane, it could attract more international travelers. Another challenge to tourism is the current state of infrastructure in Uganda. It is hard to travel quickly from place to place and tourists may have a hard time going far from their original destination to see things like Murchison Falls or go on game drives.

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