Support for Development of Inclusive Markets in Tourism in Uganda

Support for Development of Inclusive Markets in Tourism in Uganda

UNWTO, in collaboration with UNDP, is supporting the Government of Uganda through a project on development of inclusive markets in tourism, focusing on the participation of the poor and local communities in the tourism sector as entrepreneurs, employees and consumers. It aims to empower the poor to increase benefits from the tourism industry and improve their livelihoods through access to labor and markets, and increased opportunities for decent work and incomes.

The BDS Programme

A key project component of the project has been the design and delivery of a comprehensive and integrated Business Development Services (BDS) Programme, as a vehicle for enhancing business and financial management skills and raising the efficiency, profitability and viability of more than 100 participating tourism-related MSME (accommodation providers, tour operators, craft makers, community groups and commodity producers) owner-managers in three target areas across Uganda (39 participants in the West, 47 in the South West and 28 in the South East). It is equally a vehicle for increasing the survival, as well as growth, rate of participating MSMEs. Therefore, it is about raising the competitiveness of participating MSMEs to enable them to play a more effective role in the tourism economies of their respective areas and, as a result, contribute more fully to pro-poor impacts (directly and indirectly.

Networking Events

One of the key elements of the BDS Programme is the organization of Networking Events. These are essentially a platform to enable participants to exchange ideas, opportunities and concerns by learning from each other (‘peer-group mentoring’). It also is a way of spreading relevant information and ideas through interacting with invited speakers such as Key Market Actors (KMAs) and initiating new business linkages at the same time. It is the sharing of experience, ideas, business opportunities and concerns that matters with the organisation of these events.

Ownership and implications for participating tourism-related MSMEs beyond the Project – the case of the Eastern tourism group, November 6, 2014.

After three months of implementation of the BDS Programme, the last networking event was organised on November 6 at Mbale Resort, Eastern Region.

The Project Team facilitated a groups exercise for participating tourism-related MSMEs to define: 1) their interest in continuing the BDS Programme; 2) which BDS elements offered by the project (a- training, b- networking events, c- outreach support –individual coaching and mentoring at the premises-, d- facilitation of access to business opportunities through business linkages and; e- facilitation of access to finance) they value the most for a future programme; 3) their willingness to pay for the services of the local service providers (LSPs), the specific amount to be paid per day and prioritised services; 4) their willingness to contribute with discounted venues, food and drinks, accommodation or transportation, and; 5) key areas/elements to consider in a future programme.

The results of the three groups in the Eastern region were very encouraging and show that participating tourism-related MSMEs are ready to make the BDS Programme, or elements of it, self-sustainable through the creation of a viable marketplace (supply and demand-side) for BDS, by shifting more towards a ‘fee for service’ basis - Group A expressed a willingness to pay UGX 14,500 per person per day for group activities; Group B, UGX 20,000 and; Group C, UGX 50,000. Most demanded services were facilitation of business linkages; marketing and branding, accounting and bookkeeping and customer care trainings and networking events on innovation and opportunities in tourism. Groups also offered discounted rates on venues, accommodation and food and drinks.

This exercise implies ownership being taken by the participants and has implications beyond the duration of the Project while, at the same time, provide the project team with an instrument for measuring the success of the BDS Programme.