KAMPALA - 02 October, 2012 -- As the World was marking the World Tourism Day celebrations, Uganda was yet to recognize and support local initiatives preserving and promoting Uganda’s cultural heritage resources spread across the country. Rather than focusing on Government museums that are often divorced from ordinary people, these initiatives or sometimes known as community museums or cultural heritage resource centres are less known, but have made an attempt to make a connection with the past and to make our cultural heritage accessible.
Heritage tourism has been defined as “travelling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present.” It involves visiting historical or industrial sites to gain an appreciation of the past. Currently, heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry because there is a trend towards an increase in specialization among tourists. This trend is evident in the rise in the volume of tourists who seek adventure, culture, history, archaeology and interaction with local people.
Uganda is gifted with a rich historical, natural and cultural heritage. This includes the immovable (historical monuments and natural sites) as well as the movable and less visible (knowledge, skills and values). Some elements of this heritage have attained international recognition. These, if properly harnessed, can potentially improve the socio-economic situation of Ugandans and build national identity and provide employment through heritage tourism.
Apart from Kasubi Royal Tombs, there are other equally important heritage sites that can help boost tourism in Uganda. These include: Mparo tombs in Bunyoro, Karambi tombs in Tooro, Sir Appolo Kaggwa House in Manyangwa Gayaza, the first house of Omulamuzi wa Buganda at Kakeeka Mengo, Semei Kakungulu’s tomb in Mbale, among other sites. What is required is the documentation of these sites and incorporate the information into tourist itineraries.
Cultural heritage tourism as it is sometimes referred to, is important for various reasons: it has a positive economic and social impact, it establishes and reinforces identity, it helps preserve the cultural heritage, with culture as an instrument, it facilitates harmony and understanding among people, it supports culture and helps renew tourism.
“Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” was the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day. Heritage tourism, if well developed in Uganda, will enhance sustainable development since it emphasizes the conservation of cultural heritage resources and it is non-consumptive. In other words heritage resources cannot be consumed and depleted like other resources such as oil or minerals. This therefore ensures long term development of the tourism sector as it diversifies the tourism product and minimises pressure on Mountain gorillas and the national parks which are Uganda’s traditional tourism products.
The Daily Monitor.