Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 96 (Suppl.), December 2004
TOURISM INDUSTRY IN EAST AFRICA IN VIEW
OF ITS PASTORAL CARE
H.E. Msgr. Matthias SSEKAMANYA
Bishop of Lugazi, Uganda
The Chairperson, all delegates and participants, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, who has gathered us here in his name. I bring you warm and heartfelt greetings from the Catholic Church in Uganda. The Church that was blessed by God at the early stage of its im plantation with 24 Ugandan Martyrs.
On behalf of the Uganda Episcopal Conference and on my own behalf, I would like to express deep and sincere gratitude to the President of the Pontifical Council of the Spiritual Care for the Migrants and the Pastoral Care of Tourism, His Eminence Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao, for the invitation to this Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism.
3. Information About Tourism Industry in East Africa
East Africa is composed of three countries: namely, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. They currently have an economic community, known as the Eastern Africa Community.
a) Tourism Industry in Uganda:
In the 1960s the tourism industry was booming in Uganda. Entebbe International Airport alone, for example, was welcoming 3000 foreign tourists per week. Others were coming to Uganda by road from Kenya.
However, by then the tourism industry was entirely in the hands of multi-national companies, which had their bases in Kenya. The foreign currency was remaining in Kenya, and eventually it would reach its final destiny to the countries of origin. This exploitation was detected by Idi Amin. He, therefore, banned the tourists from coming from to Uganda through Kenya. The tourists industry become stagnant.
The tourism industry was revived ten years ago. It was revived but with a difference. The government of the day established two organs to deal with the tourism industry in Uganda. They are: The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Wildlife Clubs of Uganda (WCU). Both make up the Uganda Tourist Board.
The difference is in the policy, which puts emphasis on the following:
- Careful conservation of the wildlife and environment.
- Education for wildlife and environment, which is offered to the local communities near the national parks and primary school children who are given the opportunity to visit the national parks free of charge.
- Involvement of Ugandans as partners in the tourism industry through small scale industries.
Through this policy Uganda tourism industry has achieved so far the following:
- 7% of all the land of Uganda is gazetted as protected areas for wildlife.
- The Uganda population is acquiring a culture of being friendly with wildlife and environment. This is intended also to make Ugandans appreciate and feel proud of Uganda
– the Pearl of Africa as God’s gift to them.
- Ugandans are empowered to become stakeholders in the tourism industry against foreign exploitation.
- Currently the number of tourists is around 100,000 per year. However it is on the increase by 20%.
Natural Resources in Uganda:
The following are the most natural tourist attractions:
The Nile at Murchison Falls:
- This is a magnificent natural experience to share where you are enabled to feel the rock literally tremble at the world’s most powerful natural flow of water.
- Queen Elizabeth National Park:
The park is adorned by God with extraordinary diversity of natural resources. For example, the Great East African Rift Valley, the Rwenzori Mountains, the varieties of lakes both of flresh water and salt water, the enormous variety of wild animals and 550 species of birds.
- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park:
Here is the natural home of mountain gorillas. They live in Bwindi impenetrable forests.
Apart from Entebbe International airport, there are internal flights to the parks. For example, Kabale, Kasese, Gulu and Arua.
There are several tourist operators for accommodating and transporting tourists by road to the various parks. For more details, open to www. visituganda.com.
b) Tourism in Kenya:
As I have mentioned earlier, Kenya has a highly developed tourism industry which is mostly in the hands of foreign investors. Tourism in Kenya is mainly based on natural attractions, which include wildlife and idyllic beaches in Mombasa. Approximately 10% of the country is set aside for conservation of wildlife and biodiversity.
Natural Resources in Kenya:
Tourism in Kenya is mainly based on natural attractions such as wildlife in its natural habitats and beaches at Mombasa and Malindi.
The tourism industry is well organized in Kenya. Besides Nairobi and Mombasa international airports, there is Wilson airport, which links all the parks deploying small planes.
The tourist operators are organized under the safari tours.
c) Tourism in Tanzania
Like Uganda, Tanzania has a similar policy on the tourism industry.
Its Mission Statement is to develop sustainable quality tourism which puts the emphasis on the following:
- Restoration of the environment and its people’s cultures.
- Education for environment. That is to be friendly with ecological realities.
- To improve on the net gains that emanate from the tourism industry in terms of liberalization of foreign exchange regulations, foreign investors and encouraging local private sectors.
Natural Resources in Tanzania:
Tanzania is blessed by the Creator and the Provider with the following natural resources: Kilimanjaro Mountains, the exotic islands of Zanzibar, the finest game sanctuaries of Serengeti, Tarangite, Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Crater and Ruaha.
For more information open to: www. tanzania.go.tz/tourism.html
d) Pastoral Care of Tourism in Uganda:
In the light of the new evangelization (cf. Evangelization in the Modern World, 29; The Church in Africa, 57 – 58), the Catholic Church in Uganda is striving to carry out effectively Christ’s mandate (Mt: 28: 19–20) as follows:
- It empowers the Catholics to deepen their awareness of being Christ’s disciples in order to make others Christ’s disciples and to evangelize the local cultures and the relevant sectors of tourism industry.
- The religious education programmes in schools have a component on wildlife and environment as God’s wonderful work of creation (cf. Ps. 104).
- The Catholic Church in Uganda is blessed by God with the gift of 24 Uganda Martyrs, whose national shrine is situated at Nnamugongo, 10 km from the capital city, Kampala.
The 3rd of June is the national and international pilgrimage day. On this day Nnamugongo Shrine is thronged with pilgrims from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, etc… Others come from as far as the USA and Europe. The National Shrine is also one of the places that attracts tourists in Uganda. The Parish of Nnamugongo provides literature, souvenirs of the Uganda Martyrs and liturgical services.
Besides Nnamugongo Shrine, the Lord’s Day celebrations are provided in English in cities and towns near the national parks.
- The Catholic Church in Uganda is adorned by God with the various ethnic communities. The liturgy is celebrated in the local languages and expressed in the appropriate cultural features of the community.
- Catholic tourists, therefore, have a wonderful opportunity to share the Christian experience of the one faith in Jesus Christ, but expressed and manifested in different ways. Thus the unity of the Universal Church is experienced and expressed in diversity.
Through the media, public Way of the Cross on Good Friday, and other occasions, such as Christmas, Lent and Easter messages, the Catholic Church in Uganda, in collaboration with other churches, informs Christians of the dangers and evil tactics which have infiltrated the tourism industry, such as hedonism, sexual deviations, greed of money, etc… which are the new slave trade in the world.
As audio-visual aids, I have come with a brochure and video cassette.
We are not yet well organized regarding the pastoral care of tourism in our country.
Thus I expect to gain very much from the Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 5th to 8th July 2004.