- There is an increase in local tourists
- Hotels claim rules are not aimed at suppressing guests
- Communication is the best solution.
The Uganda Tourism Sector is witnessing an increase in the number of local tourists. Many tourist destinations are now making appropriate packages like vacations, staycations, Daycations, and honeymoons that suit the local market. Thanks to Projects like Tulambule, Uganda Uncovered, and Explore Uganda travelers have unmasked the beauty of Uganda. They have showcased destinations, stirring an urge among their respective audiences to travel and experience this amazing country.
Local tourism has become trendy, especially amongst the middle class. Many, usually groups of workmates, friends, acquaintances, and families now have bucket lists and are ticking them off at any given opportunity. Traveling in groups is often really fun, especially for extroverts. Coming from a country where noise defines the mood, it is a norm for these tourists to arm themselves with the right paraphernalia. A charged boom box, preferred song lists, chargers, and power banks among others. The music just needn’t stop! To complete this party, drinks, yes! No one has a work deadline, no one is under pressure to be good, and it is just another way of carrying the party with you wherever you go.
As is, most Ugandans rarely make reservations nor do they book hotels. It is on arrival at a destination some start to look for accommodation facilities and food. One hotel owner who chose anonymity said, “You know they are Ugandans when they come armed with a big speaker. These are your fellow Ugandans, you cannot deny them rooms if you have any. We are also nursing losses from the COVID-19 lockdown. Sometimes the temptation to take the money overrides the need to ask your clients to behave during their stay. These people are usually callous to other guests in the hotels.”
"During my service at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, having a happy guest was paramount," recalls Lily Ajarova, Uganda Tourism Board, CEO. "I can imagine what these hotel owners go through. Most foreign tourists come here to relax, away from their noisy cities and busy work schedules. They want to experience tranquillity and listen to the sounds of the wild." She adds. She advises people in the hospitality industry to create a balance without offending their clients. Communication is key at this point.
At Serenada Eco Resort, proprietors, husband and his wife, Ambassador Ibrahim Mukiibi and Mrs. Harriet Mukiibi who are retired Diplomats took an interesting direction. On arrival, the couple welcomes their guests and invites them for a brief at the beach. The warm and welcoming couple will sit their guests down and brief them about the facility. The core values of this hideout rotate around conservation, silence, and serenity. People who visit this place enjoy a reflective and quiet stay. “You leave the city far away, to come here of all places, it means there is something unique that you are looking for. You are looking for a change. Avail yourself to what we have to offer.” Says Ibrahim Mukiibi.
Mukiibi’s approach confirms that with clear, proper, inclusive, and friendly communication, it is easy for anyone to manage their guests. For the rest of the evening, we gathered at the fireplace, drunk and murmured stories, as the breeze from Lake Victoria made its way through the thick canopies in this forest, the crickets sang, and birds chirped in, making for a great interface with nature. The refreshing sounds, quickly made us forget that we had a loudspeaker.
Travel writer Pamela Amia notes that it is key for facilities to communicate their policies before guests book. This helps travelers make informed decisions on whether to stay or find another place that can accommodate their needs.
Another traveler Namutebi says that on most of these trips we enjoy company better than accommodations. It is just different energies rubbing off each other that make such trips fun. She adds that she would never move to these places alone. Some hotel owners understand this and opt to create spaces that can contain the noise without affecting other guests.
“At Wash and Wills Country Home Mbale, the hotel manager was quick to read through his clients. After checking in, he told us he had arranged a special place for us in the gardens. It looked safe and well organized. He said the music was fine, we could drink and enjoy the rest of our night there. How lucky, the spot was amazing for watching the rising sun in the morning.” Narrates Ugandan traveller Emmanuel.
Proprietor of the exquisite Tilenga Safari Lodge in Pakwach, Nyombi Thembo says that being close to Murchison Falls National Park comes with its dynamics. Not only do our facilities have rules but we also have rules given by the National park management. At this facility we have wild animals often coming to visit us commonest of them all is an oribi, a peaceful land animal that draws some resemblance to a goat. It grazes peacefully in the facility’s compound. We have an elephant that we have nicknamed, the landlord. It comes often to check on us. Other animals come here too. Because of this, we always ask our guests to move with guides, especially at night. We also refrain from noise which is also a rule of the Park. “These rules are not meant to suppress guests but create harmonious living with wildlife.” Adds Nyombi.
He, however, understands that different guests have different needs, that is why he allows guests to have moderate music at the fireplace which is a distance from the guests’ rooms. On arrival his management explains these rules to our clients so they can behave accordingly, so far, my Ugandan tourists have been compliant.
As Ugandans continue to flock to these destinations, be the difference by aiming to be a quality traveler. One who seeks to listen and be mindful of others.
Tourists travel to tick their bucket lists. Travelers go to places to experience, savor and enjoy what those respective places have to offer. Some rules in these places are not aimed to constrain guests’ enjoyment most cases it is about ensuring your safety. In some remote areas, hotels fear for their guests going through confrontation with local communities, animal attacks, drowning, theft, avoidable accidents, and food poisoning among others.
As the hospitality industry works to improve, as a traveler be mindful of every instruction you are given. There is a reason why policies are made at different levels. It is important that one enjoys their right with a certain level of responsibility.