Tie Tourism to Coffee Farming - Amos Wekesa

Speaking in an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Amos Wekesa, the owner of Great Lakes Safaris, said coffee has resonance globally hence the need to weave it into Ugandas tourism.
Renowned Ugandan tourism promoter, Amos Wekesa, has launched a drive to promote econ-tourism around coffee growing.

Speaking in an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Wekesa, also the owner of Great Lakes Safaris, said coffee has resonance globally hence the need to weave it into Uganda's tourism.

According to Wekesa, all potential tourists to Uganda have heard about, tasted or love coffee yet they do not know how it looks, grown, locally handled and processed.

Drawing on the popularity of coffee, Wekesa said designing and marketing coffee-themed tourism packages is crucial.

These would for instance involve travels to rural coffee farms, like in the highlands of Bugisu, Alur land and Rwenzori, accommodation, guided tours of coffee plantations and activities, community engagements, cultural activities, visits to nearby tourist sites and local cuisines.

That way, explains Wekesa, the tour operators, coffee farmers, other farmers, local hotel owners, local traders, local tourism sites and so forth would be able to make money from coffee.

According to Wekesa, tourism is the only sector capable of having a trickle effect on many people by a simple action.

Wekesa argued that although Uganda earned 1.4 billion Shillings directly from tourism last year, the real value earned, including indirectly, is about 2.4 billion dollars, equivalent to eight trillion Shillings, or a third of the 2016/17 budget.

The eight trillion Shillings is equivalent to the budget for works and transport, education, defence and health sectors combined.

Wekesa said if tourism is boosted Uganda would be able to finance its budget easily, adding that focus should be on high end tourists who have a higher spending power.

The Uganda Tourism Board puts the number of tourists to Uganda at about 300,000, while the Uganda Wildlife Authority says tourists to national parks stand at 100,000.

Wekesa said the real figure is a total of 150,000 tourists with 50,000 going to national parks and the rest heading for cultural tourism.

In addition to coffee tourism, Wekesa said Ugandans should start consuming more of the coffee as well as add value before export in order to make the product more valuable.

Uganda is now the biggest exporter of coffee in Africa, although Ethiopia still remains the biggest producer of coffee. Unlike in Uganda's case, in Ethiopia about half of the coffee produced is consumed locally.

Ugandan coffee exports average 400 million dollars per annum and comprise of 2.6 million bags of Robusta coffee and 740 million bags of Arabica.