Community Tourism in Uganda
Community Tourism in Uganda : Community tourism is a type of travel that includes tours, workshops, performances, dining, homestays and accommodation which are all provided by the local community.
How does Community Tourism benefit the Community?
Community tours or projects are run and managed by the local community thus creating numerous job opportunities for members of local community. They provide employment for people with a variety of skills such as drivers, guides, cooks, porters, dancers, managers and service staff.
In addition to this, a percentage of the income is often put into a community fund which may be spent on health, education or conservation projects such as building schools, orphanages, reforesting areas of land rich in biodiversity, or HIV awareness campaigns.
How does Community Tourism benefit conservation?
In areas with few employment opportunities, community tourism can provide an important source of income generating alternatives to nature and wildlife threatening activities such as poaching, large-scale deforestation, excessive fishing, encroachment on wetlands and other protected areas, as well as gathering firewood from protected forests.
Receiving tourists also encourages members of the local communities to value their natural environment and preserve it for future visitors and residents.
How does Community Tourism benefit Tourists?
Visitors to community tourism projects experience a unique and authentic side of life in Uganda, as they eat traditional delicacies, meet and interact with locals, play with kids and are guided by experts who have lived here their whole lives. A community tour or homestay is bond to provide one of the most meaningful memories of your Ugandan holiday.
Important Tips when embarking on a Community Tour in Uganda?
Before You Leave
When booking your tours and accommodation beforehand, try to choose a responsible tour operator and lodge. Most of the lodges located within and neighboring national parks all have a close relationship with the neighboring communities, and also take measures to avoid harming the environment for instance most lodge practice responsible tourism by installing solar power and water systems, composting toilets and recycling waste like plastics, polythene bags and even papers.
Think about what to take/give away:
Stuff Your Rucksack and Pack for a Purpose is a charitable organization that provides travellers with details of hundreds of projects around the world that need donations of anything from books and stationery to clothing and car parts. A small gift will make a huge difference.
A way of reducing your own environmental impact is to use eco-friendly products such as sunscreen, soap and shampoos which is particularly important in areas where it is hard to dispose of wastewater. These are not readily available in Uganda, so think about bringing them with you.
Respect the Environment.
- Visitors are advised to obey the rules and regulations at all times especially when visiting the national parks.
- Always practice responsible tourism for example keep showers short, avoid leaving taps running and reuse towels and linen. In places with solar panels, be aware of your electricity use and turn off lights and all electrical appliances when not in use.
- Never buy crafts or products such as ivory, fur or feathers made from protected or endangered animals.
- Do not buy bush meats such as hippo, bushbuck and buffalo. These are obtained only through illegal poaching, which poses one of the greatest threats to Uganda’s wildlife today.
- Recycling facilities are limited in Uganda, although many lodges have bins to collect plastic bottles, and all glass bottles should be returned to the place you bought them to be reused.
- If possible, always use rechargeable batteries to reduce toxic waste.
Respect the Communities.
- Respect the local people and don’t take photos of them without asking. Ugandans are modern and learned people but yet conservative especially when it comes to dress code; always dress respectfully and learn how to say please and thank you in the local language.
- Tip guides, porters, drivers and waiting staff as you would back home.
- Bargaining over a price is fine, but prepare to pay a fair amount. Always take into consideration the time and craftsmanship that has gone into what you want to buy, and remember that the seller is trying to make a living.
- Always use local guides where possible, eat at local restaurants, shop at community craft shops and consider spending part of your trip in community run accommodations.
- Always ask where the crafts that you are buying came from before you actually pay for them. Some crafts are imported and hence don’t support the local community.
- Do not give sweets or money to children in the local communities that you are visiting as it encourages begging. In case you wish to give gifts during a community tour, give them to your guide who will later distribute them later on.
Give Back to Local Communities
Many local communities offer short or long term volunteer placements in schools, clinic, and even conservation projects in national parks. In case you have some time to spare, take part in volunteer opportunities in the local communities you are visiting.
You can as well take part in research projects in national parks which will get you up close with wildlife in the parks and also grant you access to areas of the park which are not open for tourists. Taking part in research projects in the national parks such as lion research tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park as well as mongoose tracking will give you an opportunity to monitor the wildlife species and learn more about them. In addition to this, the activity fees will support the important research projects and the data you collect will be used as part of the monitoring process.
Conclusion: Community tourism in Uganda and responsible tourism go hand in hand with each other. It is vital that visitors on a community tour in Uganda also practice responsible tourism by supporting the local community and also respect the culture of the locals living in the communities.