How did this begin, you will ask?
It is unusual for conference organizers to treat their delegates to the adventurous side of Kampala city’s Cultural & historical sites. Last month, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) hosted the Africa Congress of Accountants (ACOA) at the Commonwealth Speke Resort in Munyonyo. As part of the conference programme, ICPAU dedicated the afternoon (2.00pm-6.00pm) on the last day to a half-day city tour of Kampala for over 200 delegates. ICPAU thought about it and approached us to organise the tour – something that does not happen very much especially for conference visitors to Uganda.
How much does a Kampala city tour cost?
Every delegate was asked to pay $15 for the tour, which was based on three itineraries or tracks – the Buganda cultural sites tour, the Uganda Martyrs sites tour and the other religious and historical sites.
One itinerary/track focused on the Uganda Martyrs sites of Munyonyo and the martyrs shrines in Namugongo. The second itinerary focused on the Buganda cultural sites including the Lubiri, Bulange and the Kasubi tombs.
The third and last itinerary took delegates to some of Kampala’s historical and religious sites including Rubaga and Namirembe Cathedrals, the National Mosque, Makerere University (the oldest university in East Africa) and the Uganda Museum.
The Buganda cultural sites and the historical and religious sites tours all ended at the African Crafts Village along Buganda road before returning to Munyonyo for the farewell dinner.
The tour guide idea of the crafts village was by ICPAU.
ICPAU understood that hosting such a large conference was an opportunity for them as a key stakeholder in the accounting profession on the African continent.
However, beyond hosting their colleagues, ICPAU understood the value of their delegates spending that extra US dollar or shilling in the economy because the alternative is the guests return home with those extra dollars, which we need for our foreign exchange needs.
To the local economy of Kampala and indeed to the entire economy, ICPAU pulled an extra $15 from the pockets of the 200 delegates that took on the tour.
Directly, an extra $ 3000 dollars was retained here and we all know how crucial that foreign exchange is to the entire economy.
It is that money that was used to hire ten coaster buses, buy fuel at the pump stations to transport the delegates, pay for the young men that we worked with to do the guiding of the delegates on the coaster buses, buy refreshments, the entrance fees at the Lubiri, the National Mosque, the Uganda Martyrs shrine in Namugongo the list is endless.
Indirectly, once they arrived at the crafts village, the delegates changed more foreign exchange at the forex bureaus, bought crafts and souvenirs as well as personal items like shoes, shirts and the like at the nearby shops along Buganda road.
One might dismiss the extra few thousand dollars that the delegates spent that afternoon by going on the tour but you imagine for a second that every conference organiser in Kampala included a short tour of Kampala in the programme. It is best to place such a tour on the afternoon of the last day!
And remember that Kampala’s attractions are exciting and diverse that you actually need a full day to do a complete tour of the city!
To mention a few, Kampala’s attractions include the only Baha’i place of worship on the African continent, the famous Makerere University, the second largest mosque on the African continent, the UNESCO world heritage site that is the Kasubi tombs, the Uganda Martyrs shrine and museum in Munyonyo and Namugongo.
Further to that, when people visit a city, they will not feel like they have been to that city without them going on a sight-seeing tour and meeting and interacting with some of the locals.
When they do, they become ambassadors or sorts who will always have a story to tell about Uganda and you cannot put a value on this. Be sure they will recommend a friend, a family member and that is how every conference organiser can do their part in marketing destination Uganda.
The feedback we received from the few delegates that we spoke to after the tour was all positive.
Serah Lutta from Zimbabwe said “am happy to be here. The Uganda Martyr’s tour is something I have been looking forward to. There is quite a lot to learn because the tour brings to life what I read in class about the martyrs. What has been interesting again is the discovery of a new perspective to the martyrs that they were not only the Christians that were martyred but Muslims too – I did not know that until today.”
David Wainaina from Kenya who went on the Buganda Cultural trail said the tour was interesting and that he found the story of the Buganda kingdom and its place at the centre of Uganda’s history enriching.
Kwasi Asante from Ghana who also visited the Uganda Martyr’s sites said “the tour was good. We have always read about the Martyrs of Uganda and for me this is a rare opportunity to visit and look at what happened. I am particularly impressed by the resilience of the martyrs who died for Christianity and as a Catholic; I have to say this tour has been great.
ICPAU’s management needs to be applauded for having come up with the tour of Kampala city and there is a need for this approach to be replicated by all the other conference organisers as one way of bringing in more foreign exchange but to also show our visitors around our diverse attractions.