Developmental project “Establishing tourist information centres in Uganda and building their capacities on the example of Tallinn”

The foundation Tallinn Development and Training Centre (TDTC) organized a visit for four experts from Tallinn to Uganda during the course of the developmental project “Establishing tourist information centres in Uganda and building their capacities on the example of Tallinn” from 04.10 – 03.10.2014.

The study visit was in accordance with the approved action plan of the developmental co-operation project and was attended by Tallinn City Secretary Toomas Sepp, Daily Lehtmets, Varri Väli and Member of the Board of TDTC Kalle Sepp. In addition, the Member of the Board of Estonian Travel and Tourism Association (ETFL) Ms Aili Kägu, who covered the fees of participation on her own, took part in the work of the Estonian delegation. As the developmental co-operation project ended on the 20th of October 2015, the main focus of the visit was to summarize the work and talk about future opportunities.

The visit of the delegation of Tallinn began with a meeting at the Ugandan Ministry of Public Services, where they met with leading officials of the Ministry, discussed the current activities of the developmental co-operation program, specified the program of the visit and timetable of the planned meetings.

At a meeting with the Mayor and City Secretary of Jinja and the staff of Jinja’s Tourism Information Centre (TIC) it was revealed that Jinja’s TIC is becoming a competence centre of tourism services for other municipalities. Other municipalities from Uganda as well as from neighbouring country Sudan have gained their knowledge of opening a TIC from the experience of Jinja. Thanks to the successful launch of Jinja’s TIC the Ministry of Tourism has named the Municipality of Jinja worthy of a prize given to developers of tourism.

The TIC of Jinja has started to grow and become a major attraction on its own – additional local handicraft souvenirs’ stalls have been set up, operating companies have started to offer and bring promotional materials to TIC, the staff of TIC has started to prepare the opening of a museum focusing on introducing local history, the students of local universities take part in TIC’s daily work. The Municipality of Jinja has already allocated new land in the downtown area of Jinja belonging to the Municipality for expanding of the TIC.

A remarkable step forward in the co-operation project was the ceremonial opening of Jinja’s tourism webpage during the visit of the delegation of Tallinn. Students of local universities have once again been involved and take part in developing of the website.

The delegation of Tallinn presented at a formal ceremony held at the Civil Service College two financial awards to students representing the University of Makerere for their outstanding works at the tourism themed student competition. It has already been agreed that next year the Municipality of Jinja will put out the prize fond for the competition. A large number of student´s works were submitted to both categories of the competition. Two works from both categories, which stood out from the rest of the works were presented for the prizes. As a result of the co-operation between Tallinn and Jinja best works from both categories were agreed on and awarded with prizes.

At a meeting with the Ugandan Civil Service College’s management, the parties discussed passing on experiences gained so far on the field of developing tourism using the learning program of the college. Tourism workers from Jinja, Entebbe and Mbarara, who have been trained by expert of Tallinn will serve as lecturers. They also discussed the possibility of launching a new co-operation (developing of one-stop-shop centre in Uganda) and potential co-operation partners.

The Member of the Board of ETFL and the delegation of Tallinn were introduced to the City of Jinja, current and potential tourism attractions and sightseeing places of Jinja region, including Lake Victoria, the Source of Nile and the island of Samoka. In addition to that also the topic of a possible co-operation in the near future was discussed.

The visit of the delegation of Tallinn to Uganda, presenting of prizes, opening of the website and possibilities of future co-operation were cover by the local press and TV. In Entebbe the members of the delegation met with Mayor and City Secretary of Entebbe, Entebbe’s Tourism Association leaders and TIC staff members. Private companies of Entebbe are very interested in developing co-operation with the TIC and are more than willing to deliver and continuously update their promotional materials. They have also expanded the area of handcraft stalls and they record all the visits made to the TIC.

The Municipality of Entebbe has already allocated a new area (with almost 10 times bigger surface space compared to the existing TIC) for the new TIC. The new building will also house the Travel Association of Entebbe, which allows for even better co-operation in the future.

The delegation was introduced to the Entebbes Wildlife Education Centre, the city, region’s sights and as a new idea Culture Village – Kabaka Kato Buganda Palace, which was reportedly the birth place of the Ugandan royal dynasty.

The Mayor and City Secretary of Entebbe confirmed their willingness to continue the so far successful co-operation in the field of tourism, and confirmed their strong desire to participate in the potential future co-operation project (developing of one-stop-shop centre in Uganda) as one pilot partner. At the meeting with the leaders of the Travel Association of Entebbe, the Member of the Board of ETFL Ms Aili Kägu officially presented to the officers of the city and tourism entrepreneurs an invitation to attend the 2016 fair TOUREST in Estonia. They also discussed the potential discounts of attending the fair as well as exhibition’s space-related discount opportunities. Interest among Entebbe’s tourism managers to participate at the TOUREST fair separately or by using a joint Ugandan box was very big, therefore it was agreed that the president of the Travel Association of Entebbe Stella Rugunda will further communicate with both the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism,Wildlife and Antiquieties and ETFL on the topic of taking part at the fair.

At a meeting with Mbarara’s Mayor Wilson Tumwine and City Secretary B. J. Munono both sides discussed issues related to the opening of the TIC, got acquainted with the newly renovated building and the preparation works still going on for Mbarara’s TIC. The experts of Tallinn made presentations to Mbarara’s city officers, tourism officials and tourism operators.

The delegation got acquainted with the City of Mbarara and the region’s tourist attractions (the Royal Palace, the Burial Place of the Kings etc.), Igongo Culture Centre and gave advice and recommendation on how to further develop tourism services in Mbararas. It was agreed that despite the fact that the tourism based developmental co-operation project between Uganda and Tallinn was ending on the 20th of October 2015, both parties will continue mutual communication, exchange of information and if necessary counselling. The officials of Mbarara confirmed their interest to participate in the next co-operation if it will take place.

The experts of Tallinn T. Sepp, D. Lehtmets and K. Sepp gave an interview for the local press and TV channel.

The experts were shown the main tourist attractions and sights of Mbarara region and Kabale region, visited the famous Lake Bunyonyi (the deepest lake of Uganda – up to 900 meters deep) and Lake Mburo National Park. They also visited various cultural objects, museums, handicraft markets in the City of Kampala and the famous Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, which the bishop of Rome Pope Francis is going to visit during his visit to Uganda.

The delegation also met at the Ministry of Tourism,Wildlife and Antiquities with the Permanent Secretary Mr Patrick. S. Mugoya and Tourism Director Grace. A. Mbabaz with whom they discussed the development of TICs in Uganda and to whom the Member of the Board of ETFL Ms Aili Kägu handed over an invitation to attend the fair TOUREST 2016.

At a meeting with the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities´s, UTB’s (Uganda Tourism Board) and UWA’s (Uganda Wildlife Authority) leading officials and representatives of tourism entrepreneurs’ organization the participants discussed Uganda’s tourism marketing and questions connected to branding. The experts made a presentation on Tallinn’s and Estonian tourism marketing and answered numerous questions. They also agreed on future direct relations between Ugandan and the Estonian tourism developers.

At a meeting with the Ugandan Ministry of Public Services it was noted that during the course of the visits as a whole all the goals set before the beginning of the developmental co-operation were successfully fulfilled:

1. TIC’s in Jinja and Entebbe have been opened, launched, develop quickly and are sustainable.

2. The opened TICs have become competence centres for other Ugandan municipalities and neighbouring countries’ municipalities who wish to develop tourism.

3. Local governments in Jinja and Entebbe have allocated new and larger facilities for the further development of TICs.

4. The City of Mbarara has started the process of opening its own TIC based on the knowledge of the cities of Jinja and Entebbe.

5. Jinja has created and launched a tourism webpage

6. Jinja’s TIC is effectively engaging local university students in its work.

7. The Ugandan Civil Service College will use local governments’ officials and members of the TICs’ staff, who have been trained by the experts from Tallinn, in their college programs as lecturers.

It was agreed that the Ugandan Ministry of Public Service will send a report/overview on the developmental co-operation project’s results to the member of the management board of TDTC by the end of October 2015.

Together the parties also discussed the possible launch of a new developmental project. The Ugandan Ministry of Public Service’s management is very interested in launching a new potential co- operation project (developing of one-stop-shop centre in Uganda). It was agreed that the Ugandan side will prepare and present by the middle of November 2015 its vision and analysis on which provided services (either partly national, local services or both) it would be most useful and beneficial to establish the planned service centres.

Which institutions could be partners in the project from the Ugandan side (either ministries, agencies, local authorities or could the service centres be developed in co-operation with various parties).

The representatives of Uganda and Tallinn agreed and confirmed that in case of a possible follow-up co-operation the partner from the Ugandan side should be Uganda Civil Service College through the Ministry of Public Services Uganda.

Photos and additional materials of the visit can be found here: PHOTOS / MATERIALS / VIDEO

Additional information can be found on following sites: Daily Monitor, Jinja Tourism , Pealinn

Collaborative project funded by the Estonian Foreign Ministry’s Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid funds.