By Allan Brian Ssenyonga
This year has been such a mess that a lot of things no longer feel the way they used to. Do you remember the excitement that used to come with a public holiday falling on a Friday or a Monday, for example? We always felt like protesting when a public holiday went to waste by falling on a weekend.
Well, Independence Day will fall on Friday, and I have sensed a little bit of excitement around it. Not because people will have time to sit in bars for more hours since they are still under the Covid19 lockdown, but because those trying to step out of town have an extra day to work with.
One of the good sides of this whole Covid19 crisis in Uganda is that it reignited the debate around domestic tourism. Of course, a lot of the discourse was around ignorance about the tourism sector as a whole, but this is a good thing as it helps those that know to identify knowledge gaps and teachable moments to tap in and educate more people about tourism.
Many people want to know where they can go, what to expect while there, and the cost. With the long Independence holiday loading, I keep seeing many posters for trips to Jinja, Kalangala, Fort Portal, Sipi Falls, among others doing the rounds. The posters are colorful, but some are put off by the cost. For some it is too expensive, for others it is in that annoying currency – US Dollars.
A lot of this anger is misplaced and sometimes, saying that is considered insensitive, but someone has to say it. If you want to get onto this new cool trend of domestic tourism, here is what you need to know in a few words. Tourism is a luxury activity, so you need to put money aside for it. Another important thing to put aside is time to plan. Don’t let FOMO drag you into bad decisions. So research, plan, and save before you get angry.
Secondly, do not start your domestic tourism journey with a trip to Kidepo or the summit of Mt. Rwenzori. Just go out of town to the next district or two, and spend 24 hours there. Then, keep looking out for more adventures as your experience and spending capacity grows. Do not get angry about US Dollar pricing, you can still pay in Uganda shillings. Many businesses have their pricing in US dollars because of the volatility of our currency and the fact that some of their expenses are in US dollars.
Lastly, do not feel entitled to all the places you see in ads. Accessing tourism sites is very cheap for locals, what may seem expensive is transport and accommodation. For this, all you have to do is explore the alternatives available and find what can fit in your budget, not your ego. Let us be guided, please.