Several tourists visiting Uganda are opting for home stays instead of conventional hotels, a survey carried out in south western Uganda reveals.
Richard Munezeero, the Kisoro District Tourism Officer says last year alone, over 50 visitors from Europe and Asia who came for gorilla tracking ad later went for the Batwa Cultural experience trail in Bwindi-Mgahinga Conservation Area chose to stay in people's homes where they experienced various traditions of cooking, millet grinding, cow milking, traditional churning of fermented milk for ghee, folk lore, African poetry, weaving and craft making.
Miss Christine Ampumuza, a lecturer of Tourism at Kabale University avers that Home stays promote cultural exchange while increasing community benefits. She says home stays can be implemented through total immersion where by a visitor joins the rest of the home members and participates in day-to-day house chores or partially by a visitor renting a room from the main house.
Ampumuza said trials are being made in the Kigezi region where home owners have expressed interest in promoting the venture while cultural guides have been identified and trained to interprete various experiences according to regions and ethnic groups.
In Kirigime, a suburb of Kabale municipality, Austrian volunteers are training a group of women who do mat and basket weaving, millet grinding, and bead work in the skills of implementing home stays.
According to Dr. Peter Ngategize, the National Co-odinator for the Competitiveness and Investment Climate Secretariat (CICS) who is also the facilitator, Kigezi Tourism Cluster, the homesteads to pilot the home stays should be linked to the existing primary tourism products like hot springs, Kisiizi waterfalls, the iron ore smelters etc.
The process of promoting home stays at a wider level will entail constituting an association of home owners willing to offer their homes for the venture, home evaluation and classification, developing home stay contracts, packaging and marketing the product.
Kigezi Tourism Cluster works with the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB) in Uganda and the Diaspora to promote Tourism, Health and other social services