Unlocking Women’s Potential in Tourist Guiding in Uganda and Rwanda

A Project by Kigezi Biota Tours

A considerable number of women in East Africa have studied tourism and undergone training in tourist guiding through associations, institutions and tour companies. However, only very few of them are actually practicing the tourist guiding profession.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board, 47 out of the 578 registered tourist guides in Uganda are women, which is equal to 8.1% of all tour guides. This figure sounds quite fair, but only ten out of them are seen out there in field guiding. The Rwanda Development Board has registered 5 female guides out of 183 tourist guides in Rwanda. This implies that only 2.73% of all active tour guides are women.

Kigezi Biota Tours, in partnership with the Safari Guides Associations in both Uganda and Rwanda, have developed a project to foster the active involvement of trained female tour guides in the profession. Through the facilitation of apprenticeships and mentorships in tourist guiding women acquire first hand practical, on-the-job experience and skills that will enable them to find employment with tour operators or as independent guides.

The project banks on the fact that women are seen to be good managers by nature and, provided they are well equipped with the required skills, are often preferred to the male counterparts. Kigezi Biota is observing a trend today that most female and many male tourists are more comfortable when guided by a female tourist guide. Support through the EAC-GIZ funded Intra-Regional Trade Fund (IRTF) will be an important step to strengthen and encourage women to overcome their persisting reluctance and take up guiding proactively.

'A lot of stereotypes about women in tourism discourage women from tourist guiding. And this explains why we have so few female tourist guides in the country. We thank EAC and GIZ for giving us such a great opportunity of empowering ladies in this male dominated profession', notes Dr. Christine Ampumuza, Head of Tourism Department at Kabale University.

Apprentices will be recruited with the help of the tourist guide associations in both Uganda and Rwanda, and even the calls for applications will run on the platforms of these associations. They will also provide the mentors and trainers that are going to take the apprentices through the apprenticeship and mentoring programme. For quite a long time, guides from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have been working together; therefore, this will not be the first time to support each other.

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and the Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) will also be involved through making available their wide database of tour operators as the main employers of Tourist Guides. They will also support the project in making connections between apprentices and tour operators for employment opportunities.

The launch of the project was a great event on 13 November 2021 at the White Horse Inn at Kabale town. The launch took place with both physical attendance and online and was very well covered by the local and regional media.

Over 100 women are lining up for this new opportunity in tourist guiding so far. With the COVID pandemic as an unpredictable factor, more digital reach-out is going to take place.

‘This is a great opportunity that should be seized by as many female guides as possible and made maximum use of’, said Patra, a ranger at Queen Elizabeth National Park. ‘Working as a ranger guide has enabled me personally to achieve many things, including taking care of my family and other personal developments,’ Dr. Christine Ampumuza added. 'We know we can set our own examples, showing that women can do excellent work in tour guiding and we encourage women to make full use of their capacities in this still largely male-dominated industry.'

Here are some links to learn more about Unlocking Women’s Potential In Tourist Guiding:

In the press:
Females urged to embrace tour guiding – AFRICAN PEARL NEWS

On Facebook

In local and national broadcasting:

https://youtube.com/channel/UCfvHpgWMOrs31Gs3mRzIN2A

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