By Titus Kakembo
Kampala city has been the portal of destination Uganda, but plans are underway to exploit its potential to capacity. This was revealed during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on November 31, 2021.
“This is possible by improving existing products, developing new ones, providing quality service in the entire chain and selling it. The menu comprises of a wealth of history, culture, gastronomy and ancient architecture” UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova said. “Kampala is ready to reassert itself in that position.”
Museums, theatres and faith tourism are just a starter/salad before or after the main course. “Before the advent of Covid-19, Kampala was the Great lakes resort,” Ajarova noted. “It is the springboard before one starts on their safari to truck gorillas, see the Big Five or bird watching.”
KCCA executive director Dorothy Kisaka expressed great expectations in the venture of executing joint hotel inspection and quality assurance of attractions like Kabaka’s Lake, monuments, hygiene and security.
“Providing environmental awareness among city dwellers and information about important sites will add to the appeal of Kampala to an exodus of tourists from the region and beyond,” Kisaka noted. “There is a need to build capacity to handle the fast-changing tourism industry.”
A casual tour of Kampala City was a revelation of attractions embedded within 30-minute drive from the Central Business District (CBD.) They include Uganda National Museum in Kitante and Semagulu Museum in Mutundwe.
“If it were not for the two-year Covid-19 lockdown, the volume of visitors to Semagulu was shooting higher,” the CEO John Sempebwa said. “People want to know their roots before they forge a way forward.”
Sempebwa said entertainment was not an imported pass time as portrayed by colonialists.
“We had regattas, wrestling and the board games,” Sempebwa boasts. “It is time we enriched our children with our history as they are caught up in an information highway.”
Contrary to expectations, in spite of concrete replacing what was the greenest city in Africa, Kampala is still sandwiching some trees and birds like the Marabou stork.
True to Ajarova’s claim of Kampala being the destination for merrymakers in the region, events such as the goat races, Diwali, Blankets and Wine, Oktoberfest and Seafood galas were crowd pullers.
On the lengthy menu of things to do, while in Kampala are horse riding at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Ndere Centre or National Theatre, faith tourists can have fun at Namugongo Martyr’s Shrine, Bahai Temple or Qadaffi Mosque on Old Kampala hill.
The number and quality of hotels has shot up since Kampala successfully hosted CHOGM in 2017. Uganda Hotel Owners Association boasts having more rooms to appeal to all levels.
Kwanjulas or okuhingira (traditional wedding ceremonies are potential attractions to cultural lovers. And visual artist Nuwa Wamala Nyanzi sums it all up saying a trip to Kampala minus a memento is considered incomplete.
“We have wooden masks, oil paintings, sculptures, footwear and jewellery,” Nyanzi says. “Responsible tourists leave some money behind to improve the livelihoods of their hosts.”