Kitara (Western Uganda) Network for Tourism and Hospitality Development

Kitara Region (Western Uganda): Kitara area lies across the Equator right in the heart of East Africa. The history of Kitara dates as far back as 1889 when Uganda was still a British protectorate and this region was nicknamed ‘the Switzerland of Africa’ because of the hilly and valley nature and its unique vegetation and weather.

Kitara lies entirely between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. To the far west it borders Zaire (former Belgian Congo). This border concedes with the western Rift Valley occupied from north to south by Lakes Albert, Edward, George and Kivu. On this border with Zaire exist also, the Rwenzori mountain ranges, the highest point of which (Mt Margarita) is 5,119 meters high. Further south west between Lake Edward and lake Kivu, there is the volcanic Muhabura range protruding from the rift Valley between 3,500 meters and 4,000 meters high.

On the other side Kitara borders Tanzania (former German East Africa). Boundary adjustments in 1910 between the British, the Belgians and the Germans fixed the southern limit of Uganda by including in Uganda, Kigezi which was formerly part of Belgian Congo and Bufumbira, formerly part of Germany East Africa. Kigezi was formerly part of Rwanda which together with Burundi and Tanganyika, formed German East Africa.

Kitara region has the highest concentration of Uganda’s major tourist destination, in fact, the area accounts for more than 70% of Uganda’s nature destinations. The exploration of oil in the region and establishment of the oil pipeline through the region is becoming another huge booster to the tourism and economy of the region.

Why a Network for Tourism and Hospitality in this region?

The characteristics of the Kitara (Western Uganda) region and its tourism market potential make regional tourism cooperation necessary, and even essential.  If International tourists visit the region, few would visit one district only.  Normally they visit 2-3 or even 4-5 districts in one travel trip. 

The goal of Networking certainly is to raise the standards of tourism across the region, boost the branding and finally attract as many International tourists as possible to visit the region, because traveling around this region has been a very clear and attractive opportunity for international tourists who come to Uganda. In fact, the region accounts for about 75% of Uganda’s overall tourism industry.

For future visitors in the region, the Network in the first place is reliable, and it can provide first-hand information.  For tourism professionals or agencies, the network can provide a powerful platform to find working partners with each other, and they can take this platform to develop high-class tourism products tailored for international and local tourists.  At the same time, the network also shoulders the important task on making new travel routes, which can provide new opportunities for Ugandan travel agencies, and will provide convenience for promotion of regional tourism.  In order to maintain continuous high-level consultations, tourism industry leaders of tourism in the 33 Local governments (districts, cities and municipalities in the region) will always hold meetings once a year.

Each year, the network, involving tourism partners and stakeholders in the region will hold the largest tourism activities in the country, namely, Tourism Exhibitions (TEs), Tourism Talent Shows (TTSs), Annual Cultural Festivals (ACFs) and Tourism Appreciation Days (TADs) which will always be rotated around the region. Participants from different districts who attend these annual events will share latest trends of Uganda’s tourism industry within the framework of a professional forum.

Uganda’s tourism market is currently growing fastest in the region, and at the same time also changing at the top speed with ever growing new demands, which requires the tourism industry to update and change all the time, and to develop corresponding products to meet with challenges.

The role of a Tourism Coordination Network will be increasingly strengthened, which prospectively will be reflected on the number of tourism products and number of tourists to the region.

The Network will launch series of seminars on branding, tourism routes and product development in all participating districts. Summary reports from these seminars will always share communication services for tourism route executions, and suggestions in the field of brand and market service.

With the help of Uganda’s National Tourism Board, the Network will directly acquire real-time tourism tendency information about Uganda tourism market, and even the entire East Africa and the whole world. Those information plays vital role in strategy planning.

The main goal of the Network is that the Network can evenly and fairly represent 33 districts in tourism every event and project.  The Network will help to maintain daily work communication with Uganda National Tourism Board and Ministry of Tourism, while keeping contact with district coordinators in the 33 districts

The Network’s long-term target is to develop into a regional tourism headquarter receiving trust from all parties who could spontaneously reach it as long as national and regional problems related to tourism occurred, and firmly believe they could receive effective and practical help.  Of course the main task is to convey information to the district tourism bodies, precisely the information related with Uganda tourism products and other professional information. We believe that tourism and business relations based on long-run trust could only be established by mutual understanding.

The mission of the Network is to collect and share information and connect tourism stakeholders – business ventures, national tourism organizations and ministries. By promoting the region as a single and unique destination, the Network will support the cooperating districts and actors to be more visible in the Uganda’s tourism market.

We have Identified the following Needs for success of the regional tourism and hospitality sector in the region

1. Community involvement and sensitization about tourism and conservation of biodiversity

2. Providing access to tourism policy frameworks for all actors

3. Providing mapping of tourism potential destinations and activities (profiling)

4. Coordination with all the tourism stakeholders and partners in the region

5. Creation of a regional tourism and hospitality private sector platform (the Network)

6. Advocating and attracting more tourism partners to the region

7. Capacity building for tourism and hospitality actors

8. Resource mobilization capacity for all tourism actors

9. Peace building among the tourism actors and their guests

10. Building Public relations, marketing and advertising

11. Improvement of tourism infrastructure such as roads and hotel

12. Product development, diversification and specialization

13. Strengthening security and peace in the region

Key action points

1. To establish a Tourism Coordination Center for improvement of Tourism and Hospitality Industry in the region.

2. To Support district-led tourism platforms for more coordination, partnership, collaboration and sharing knowledge and information.

3. To support documentation of tourism destinations in each district and advocate for their development

4.To support local tourism operators in each district in acquiring permits and other requirements from authorities.

5. To engage with District Local Governments, Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Forest Authority, Uganda Tourism Board and other established mechanisms.

6. To support community awareness activities, sensitization, capacity building and skilling the youth to labor market demanded skills in tourism.

7. To support development of the required labor for the tourism sector in the region by equipping the youth with relevant and demanded skills.

8. To support and lobby for Improvement of infrastructure such as roads, hotels, museums, electricity, water and security in the region.

9. To support local tourism private sector in registration with Sub County Community Development Offices, District Community Development Offices and Uganda National Registration Service Bureau.

10. To support Private sector tourism stakeholders in spearheading communication and sensitization of District Local Governments and Sub Counties on the tourism and hospitality sector development in general.

11. To support the regional tourism Coordination Network for the sustainability of the coordination platforms, to streamline the communication and support regional tourism development activities.

12. Support the development of the Tourism City in the region; i.e. Developing Fort Portal City to become a centre of Tourism excellency in the region.

13. Support Annual regional tourism stakeholder meetings/conferences, taking place in different districts in the region

14. Hold Tourism Exhibition (KTE) each year which will always be rotational, involving participants from different districts of the region.

15. Support Resource mobilization capacity for the tourism and hospitality industry actors in the region

16. Support Government departments and District Local Governments to share policies related to tourism and conservation with all tourism stakeholders.

17. Support Development of online platforms where all mapped tourism destinations are shared for use to the public.

18. Support coordination of the Pro-active promotion of Public Private Partnerships in regional tourism development and investment.

19. Support environmental conservation and preservation of culture by utilization of indigenous knowledge, planting of indigenous trees and protecting the African good cultures (Keep Africa green and Black campaign).

20. Support diversification of the regional tourist products by specialization through doing market research, benchmarking and trainings in tourism marketing.

21. Support the implementation of the Justice and peace building activities among tourism stakeholders in the region and the tourists in the region

22. Support implementation of a Tourists’ complaints and suggestions desk. Complaints and suggestions will be received from tourists and actors to acknowledge, coordinate and communicate to the respective departments and authorities for consideration and processing with the relevant matters.

23. To promote the social development, advancement and the general wellbeing of the inhabitants of the communities in the operation area.

24. To educate and train members of the community and to sensitize the general public through conducting seminars, workshops, conferences, advertisements, shows and any other mode that may be appropriate.

25. To establish, reserve and develop a database and to disseminate and distribute tourism and hospitality information to and for the benefit of the community.

26. To champion, promote, support and protect the development and welfare of the communities of the region and to ensure harmony and cooperation amongst community members and the tourism industry.

27. To lobby and liaise with government, relevant institutions, civic authorities and organizations with similar objective in the formulation and implementation of policy, and planning of matters connected with Tourism and hospitality services.

28. To support the use and transfer of modern technologies among the members of the tourism sector within the communities of the region.

29. To support the adoption of highest level of tourism standards for the community within the framework of national policies.

30. To initiate, conduct and coordinate tourism research programs for the good of the community.

31. To support creation of local tourism forums where the community will exchange ideas and information about the improvement and maintenance of tourism standards in the region.

32. To support mutual networking among the members of the community and the tourism sector, offer advice on joint planning, implementation and sharing of information.

33. To support and promote relationships with other related organizations in Uganda and elsewhere in the tourism world for the purpose of furthering the objectives of the Network.

By Sabiiti Fenekansi Mbiire;

Kitara Foundation for Regional Tourism


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