Africa: The lady who promotes Tourism in Uganda with a passion
Adryne Natuhwera has always been passionate about tourism. During her time in high school from 2005 to 2007, she was the chairperson of the wildlife club. During that time, she won a writing competition about Ugandan wildlife for which she was rewarded opportunities to travel to many places such as Kibaale, Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks among others.
It was then that she got to understand how beautiful Uganda was. “Every time I travelled around I was surprised by our nation’s beauty and felt that everyone needed to see it,” Natuhwera relates.
When time came for her to look for a career, Natuhwera chose to pursue her two passions: business and travelling. In 2014, Natuhwera opened doors to her Steadfast Safaris and Tours Limited at Equatorial Shopping Mall. Her forte was domestic tourism.
What she needed
To back up her passion for tourism, when she was starting Steadfast Safaris and Tours, she attended training at East Africa School of Tourism, which she says was an eye opener into the whole perspective of the tourism industry. She says she needed the training to boost her passion and did not want to do things without any qualifications.
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Uganda. According to Uganda Bureau of Standards (UBOS) statistical abstract (2016), Uganda received 1.32 million tourist arrivals. The number of arrivals through the gazetted border posts increased by 4.1 per cent between 2015 and 2016. This makes competition fierce. Natuhwera notes that when she started out, it was much of a boy’s club where men dominated but women are slowly making inroads. “I believe that the creativity you add to the sector makes you stand out from the crowd. It is an industry where you are rewarded according to your passion and knowledge of what you are selling. If we would look into the tourism sector and put more energy into it, it could take Uganda to a different level,” she explains.
Local and International tourism
Much as Natuhwera organises both local and international travels such as honeymoon packages, gorilla safaris, road trips, bird watching and reservations, among other services, her concentration lies in domestic tourism under the campaign “Knowing My Country.” She opines that so many Ugandans do not know about their country that when someone thinks of having a holiday, they are thinking of travelling to Dubai and yet there are many natural beauties that attract international tourists to Uganda. “In this industry, clients tend to drive you where they want to be and not where you want to be. We got an inquiry with one company that wanted us to take them to Dubai. That is how we ventured into international travels,” she recalls, emphasising that the biggest client base are mostly Ugandans.
According to Natuhwera, her challenge in the industry is less information given to local and international tourists about Uganda that very few know what the country possesses. There is more to Uganda than national parks. As a country, Uganda is not promoting itself as best as it should, a concern she raises to the government, the tourism board and other bodies that run Ugandan tourism. “When you look at how other neighbouring countries are promoting themselves, the amount of money their governments allocate to tourism is a lot more than what our government is investing. When you look at a country like Kenya, their budget to tourism is so high. They have a fund that tour companies borrow from to promote Kenya. Rwanda highly promotes their tourism much as they do not have half of what Uganda has,” Natuhwera observes.
In the next five to 10 years, Natuhwera envisions Steadfast Safaris and Tours growing into one of the biggest companies promoting domestic tourism in Uganda. This will be achieved through marketing Uganda’s beauty on company social media platforms.
“If the nationals understand the beauty in their country, they will sell it more to the outside world. The domestic market has capacity of attracting more international tourists. What Steadfast offers is one of the most affordable packages in town. Within and outside the country, we offer our clients the best they can find on the local market,” Natuhwera says.
By Roland D. Nasasira