This story is from a viewpoint of eTN Ambassador Professor Dr. Katende M. Suleyman of Kampala, Uganda. The author is a Professor of Tourism Studies and Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Kampala University.
His observation: The recent Pope’s visit to Uganda will be an item to talk about for some time in Uganda. This tour plus the visit of other papal foreign visitors is what is referred to as in-bound tourism. Then the other committed Ugandan Christians who travelled from their normal places of residence to Kampala to welcome the Pope were domestic tourists if their distance of travel was more than 50 miles and stayed away for not less than 24 hours. Uganda and its citizens benefited from the expenditure of both these foreign and the domestic tourists.
The benefits were economic, cultural, religious social.
1. Economic benefits
The major beneficiaries of the papal tour were the hotel owners, restaurant operators and transporters. The Uganda based airlines sold prepaid air tickets for foreign visitors, press and the Pope’s advance team.
The travel agents, tour operators and car hire offices had their cars put to use for airport pick-ups, drops and shuttles between hotels and other residences and places visited by the Pope.
The hotels and supplementary accommodation establishments benefited by providing rooms, food and refreshments. Several hotels, lodges and guest houses run out of space.
The restaurants and vendors at Namugongo made money out of the overnight guest who arrived on Friday for the Saturday mass. The pork and local gin joints were also congested with customers. The other category that will be remembering the papal tour was that of boda-boda and commercial vehicle operators.
The boda-boda men were active due to closure of some roads to vehicles. The taxis, buses and even lorries transported committed Christians from different parts of the country to Kampala city to have a glimpse of the Pope and to attend the Namugongo mass. The designers, artists and vendors also had their day to sell papal cloths, T-shirts, mugs, cups and magazines bearing the face and papal features to people. The flags for Uganda and Italy were also on sale. The media houses and Television stations had their share a month in advance from publicity and advertisements.
The foreign exchange rate might is now lower because of the extra foreign money earned from this visit.
2. Religious benefits
The Catholic Church and Uganda government had a chance to disseminate more information on our martyrs who were killed in 1884 to the world. While Namugongo shrine has earned more publicity, little known Munyonyo shrine is going to be added on the foreign tourist list as a religious tourist attraction. The Namugongo martyrs museum was also launched. The Pope preached on religions reform and tolerance. The coming together of different religions to welcome the Pope might result narrowing and bridging divisions of the religions. The papal visit as usual strengthens the faith of most Catholics and will result in more visitors for the yearly celebrated 3rd June Martyrs Day.
3. Social benefits
Ugandans have benefited from the papal tour through the visitors’ expenditure and Kampala City Council Authority infrastructural developments. The Uganda government through City Council worked and improved on some roads leading to the places the Pope visited. The residents along Bunga- Gaba Seminary and Salaama- Munyonyo shrine had their roads upgraded to bitumen. The main roads Kibuye- Salama, Gaba and Wavamuno had new lights, cleaned and their channels constructed.
The owners of buildings along the roads leading to the visited places were worked and painted. So tenants wish the Pope was visiting Uganda more often. Ugandan officers who were assigned duties during that period pocketed some allowances.
The different tribes had a chance to showcase their cultural attires, dances and songs. The voters also had a rare chance of seeing all Presidential aspirants on same occasion smiling and shaking hands.
The image of the country has also brightened to the outside world as foreign journalists had their focus on Uganda for about a week. The Uganda Tourism Board can now market Uganda as a better tourist destination because the papal tour was an assurance to skeptical tourists that the country is safer after hosting the Pope.