Tourism is defined as the commercial organisation and operation of holidays and visits to places of interest. A tourist is a person who leaves place A for place B which is not a place of their residence for more than 24 hours but less than one year and should not have a permanent job in that place B irrespective of the skin colour.

If I leave Kampala which is my place of usual residence and I head to Gulu, I will be referred to as a domestic tourist.
If Smith leaves the United Kingdom for Uganda where he does not have a permanent job for more than 24 hours and less than a year, we call him an international tourist.

That definition also applies to a Ugandan born living and working in the UK visiting Uganda for the same period as Mr Smith.
In Africa, tourism has been happening especially domestic tourism but those involved did not know they were domestic tourists.

Ugandans for example have been moving around Uganda for many years spending more than 24 hours in places they do not reside and yes, that data has not been captured well such as the international tourist arrivals.

I think the tourism players can play a role in educating different district leaders about the value of not only attracting spenders to their districts but also capturing data for use.

New York City for example makes more than $49b annually from tourism through the I HEART NY which has been used for decades and that campaign targets both Americans outside New York and international travellers.

Major cities around the world have proper marketing strategies of attracting spending populations into their cities.
Bangkok for example attracts 20.05m international visitors every year, London 19.83m, Paris 17.44m, Dubai 15.79m, Singapore 13.91, New York 13.13m, Kuala Lumpur 12.58m, Tokyo 11.93m, Istanbul 10.70m and Soul 9.54m and those are the top 10 most visited cities in the world according to earthnworld.com.

The Chinese tourists for example spend more than $2b on shopping jewellery alone in Paris and I am sure you can imagine how much is spent on food, transport, site seeing, shopping on other items and let us not forget the number of jobs the 17.44m International tourists offer to the French citizens. In Dubai, we all know that one in every three buildings is a hotel something we Ugandans must seriously think about.

Most of the cities listed up there are affected by extreme weather in most cases but that has not stopped them from pushing a proper agenda of attracting spenders.

I have always wondered why every Kampala City leaders talks about infrastructure and never the positioning of Kampala as a tourism hub of East Africa.

Kampala has lots of history partly based on Buganda kingdom which could be exploited in attracting spenders from within and outside Africa.

Kampala has big water front in the world’s largest tropical lake and also the second most important fresh water lake in the world which can attract a big population for marine tourism and general entertainment.

I also believe that Kampala is the liveliest city in East Africa based on my traveling experience in the region.
People leave villages for Kampala not for only good infrastructure call it roads but for education, healthy and job opportunities. We can create massive jobs especially for the youth by simply positioning Kampala as a tourism hub and for those who do not believe just study the boda boda tours in Kampala.

Take time and interview the young men who have positioned themselves as boda boda tour guides and you will find out that they make more money than those employed in the corporate offices including banks and these numbers will continue to grow with time.

Tourism is a powerful vehicle for economic growth and job creation all over the world and the tourism sector is directly and indirectly responsible for 8.8 per cent of the world’s jobs. That is 258m jobs in real figures according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Tourism contributes 9.1 per cent of the world’s GDP ($6t) and 5.8 per cent of the world’s exports ($1.1t), 4.5 per cent in investment ($652b).

The truth is that tourism has a much bigger impact in less developed countries such as Uganda than it does with say France because one international tourist could have an impact to almost six people while the same will have an impact to only say one person in France.

The writer is an investment expert [email protected]