By Jonathan A. Benaiah (The Ugandan Tourist)
“I was quite lucky to be among the first few people to enjoy a city-round excursion of the Kampala I usually see, but this time from on high in a brand new double-decker bus.”
The bus from behind. IG/: The Ugandan Tourist
Off to work it was, that Wednesday morning of 20th December 2017, and like any other day, I was heading out to another meeting, another launch, another Tourism event. Just one of the many things that kind of make my daily to-do list in pursuit of getting my bread buttered.
But there’s a reason the word “surprise” still holds meaning and this day came with one of those reasons. My expectations of that day were pretty much below water, but I was very impressed at what was unveiled at the end of it all.
views of Kampala from Rubaga Hill
The previous day we had been invited by Promote Uganda Safaris for the launch of their first state of the art Sightseeing Bus Tour experience. Promote Uganda Safaris is sister to “Promote Uganda”, a mass media communication company incorporated in 2006 with the intention of advertising and disseminating information about opportunities in Uganda’s different sectors, but principally tourism and agriculture.
The launch held at BMK House on Plot 4-5, Wampewo Avenue, Kampala (from 09:00am to 11:00am) was graced by the presence of different players from in and out of the tourism sector and dignitaries from several important agencies including Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and Buganda Heritage and Tourism Board.
Hon. Kiwanda and Mr. David Nsubuga
The Guest of Honor, State Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities – Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi welcomed the bus tour and called it a huge boost to city tourism and encouraged Ugandans to receive it with open arms. “We are the people to tell our own story and you cannot tell the story you don’t know. Kampala is one of our biggest tourism products,” the minister alluded.
The managing director of Promote Uganda Mr. David Nsubuga informed guests at the launch that after launching this first bus, the second bus would soon arrive in Uganda for the same cause.
“Our vision is to create innovative and dynamic tourism services and products and the buses bring a new unique experience in the tour activity around the heart of Uganda”, Mr. Nsubuga mentioned.
Agency representatives officially unveiling the bus tour
Having launched the bus we set off from Hotel Africana and headed west towards the traffic congested Kampala city, thank God we were only saved by the services of a lead car that enabled us penetrate the thick traffic.
The Ugandan Tourist enjoying the Familiarization Tour
The familiarization tour led us past key Kampala tourism sites including the Namirembe and Rubaga cathedral, Ghadafi Mosque, Kabaka’s palace, parliament of Buganda (Bulange) and the endeared Kasubi Tombs, also a World Heritage Site But still under renovation.
Views of the Buganda Royal Mile aboard the bus during the city tour
A few hiccups here and there, but being their maiden trip, I could grant them the benefit of the doubt on most areas, but for a better tourist experience I had a few observations:
- I generally think the route is too long. Alternatively I would suggest that some of sites be knocked off the itinerary, especially for the start to create shorter trips while the longer trips can be resumed one the new bus arrives. That way you give the travelers an opportunity to make a choice. They could use the help of some tor operators who have been selling tours for a longtime and therefore have in-depth experience in tailoring dream trips.
- I also felt like the guides need a lot of training on story telling as opposed to simply pointing at sites and naming them. The guide service is at the core of the tourism product and they must be brought to speed.
- I am supportive of maintaining the lead car as this would temporarily mitigate the challenge of traffic jam.
- Lastly for the start,I’d recommend the team comes up with a much cheaper fee for Ugandans. Market penetration strategy.
In the beautiful colors of black, yellow and red, symbolic of Uganda’s flag; and finely branded Kampala Sightseeing Bus with a slogan “Tulambule” (loosely translating to mean “Let’s “tour”) the 64 seater doubled-decked bus is an absolute “attention grabber”.
Effective Thursday – 21st December 2017, the city tour bus will be available for individual and group tours following a predetermined route plan that will allow patrons visit all Kampala City’s heritage sites and top attractions to get an in-depth understanding of the history of the famed “City of Seven Hills”.
The Prime Minister of Buganda Kingdom Charles Peter Mayiga inspects the bus before he also unveils it
With WiFi on board, entertainment, a friendly crew and of course the open roof, Promote Uganda Safaris is setting new heights for Kampala tourism.
The bus easily sticks out and while aboard the bus, you can certainly witness necks turning each time the bus drives past them. There was a general excitement in Kampala during the unveiling and I am hopeful that this initiative will trigger a revolution of further advancements in tourism infrastructure.
Driving past the Parliament of Uganda
Ugandans – UGX 100,000
Other nationals – US$ 30
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