Four Ugandans have been recognized among the 2017 top 100 Africa Women in Travel during the 13th Akwaaba African Travel Market held in Lagos, Nigeria.
Jean Byamugisha, the Executive Director of Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) and Safia Ali the Senior Marketing Officer at Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) scooped awards for their exceptional role in the tour and travel industry.
The other two recipients of the recognition are Barbra Vanhellepute Adoso who chairs the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and Lily Ajarova the Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust.
They received their Awards on Sunday at a colorful event held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Nigeria during a session on ‘Women in Tourism’.
Jean Byamugisha, 32 has been at the helm of the hoteliers association for the last two years making her the first female and youngest Executive Director in the history of the association. There are over 500 hotels under the body.
The holder of Bachelors Degree in Tourism Management from Makerere University worked as the Executive Secretary of UHOA prior to her current position. Notable among her achievements has been the classification of hotels in Uganda as a way to improve the quality of service.
On her part, Barbra Vanhellpute Adoso has led the tour operators in Uganda through significant successes among them; lobbying for better marketing of brand Uganda, slashing Uganda’s visa fees from $100 back to $50 and reviewing hefty taxes in a bid to create an enabling business environment. Over 170 tour operators are currently under AUTO.
Adoso is into the tour and travel business herself. She owns Asyanut Safaris, tours and travel in Uganda and East Africa under which she runs two safari lodges in the protected Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Semliki Game Reserve.
Lily Ajarova is famous for championing eco – tourism and conservation of Uganda’s endangered chimps at the Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary which she founded 19 years back. The island in Lake Victoria which is home to 49 of the 200,000 chimpanzees left in Africa has found its way to the top on every tourist’s to-do list while in Uganda.
Ajarova has created a safe habitat for orphaned and confiscated chimpanzees as well as secured them from illegal poaching and pet trade.
The other awardee, Safie Ali is in charge of the marketing department at UTB, the government agency responsible for marketing Uganda as a tourism destination. Safie who has been at UTB for about 8 years is the desk officer for the Middle East, Japan and Arab Emirates markets and her role involves ensuring that Uganda gets more visitors from these countries.
Tourism is the biggest employer of labour globally and Africa with its large female population seeks to grow in tourism, the initiators of the Awards say there is a need to grow the population of women in tourism business.
According to UN Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports, more than 30% of businesses in Africa are run by women, and 36% of the continent’s tourism ministers are women, the highest number in the world’.
Globally, the proportion of women participating in tourism at decision making level is low, especially considering the high number of women working in the lower and entry levels.
Uganda has equally made strides in the representation of women in management of tourism over the last few years. There has been a female serving Minister of Tourism, a number of female tour operators and hoteliers while the bulk of other women are at the base of the hospitality sector.