Last week; the French embassy in Uganda spearheaded by Her Excellency Ambassador Stephanie Rivoal gave Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) a forty nine million shillings grant to aid the Uganda tourism fraternity acquire skills and lessons in French.
The main beneficiaries of this grant were the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) which is the umbrella organization that brings together all tourism associations in Uganda that include the Association of Uganda Tour Operators(AUTO), Uganda Safari Guides Association(USAGA), Uganda hotel owners Association(UHOA), Uganda Association of travel agents, and Uganda Community Tourism Association(UCOTA). This consortium altogether represents travel agents, tour operators, accommodation facilities, tour guides, and community-based organizations.
Tourism is Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earner contributing more than 10 per cent to the annual gross domestic product and 23 per cent of export earnings. This is set to increase with efforts from Uganda Tourism Board already penetrating more foreign tourism markets in the Nordic region that include Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway and other markets in Asia, Arabic region and the Pan-African Market.
Adopting foreign languages is a great asset in Uganda’s tourism industry. It is important to the cognitive process of acquiring new knowledge about the destination by the tourist as the challenge of language barrier would have been overcome and communication is eased. Uganda being among the most welcoming countries in the world tasks the tourism industry in the country with the responsibility to commit to learning foreign languages in order to capitalize on the inbound tourist population.
A multilingual tour operator and tourism practitioner has the ability to reach out to multiple tourists of different cultures. This lessens the impact of adjustment for the tourist if the tour operator makes an attempt to learn the foreign tourists’ language in advance. This facilitates bridging of social barriers thus enhancing the visitor’s experience.
In today’s interconnectedness, learning a new language is a valuable tool in tourism. It improves cultural open-mindedness. Tourists love visiting places they know they will feel at home and not be segregated because of their lingua. Given that language gives one insight to a particular culture. Studying a new language enables the tourism fraternity to have extensive understanding of the foreign tourists’ way of life. Opening up to extra culture allows you to be more flexible and enthusiastic of other ways of doing and looking at things. As a result, if one in the tourism industry is multilingual, he or she has the advantage of seeing the world from different vantage points. Tell the Ugandan story in different languages.