Travel, whether for official business or leisure is pertinent to many people’s lives particularly in more developed countries. But Africans too have picked up on foreign travels notably for conventional business adventures. Whatever the reason for travel, everyone out there requires the services of an expert in the travel field to ease the processes involved from the point of conception of the travel idea to the final destination. Tour and Travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and entertainment activities to individuals and help groups in planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients including visa advisory and flight bookings.
While travel agents may require experience in people handling techniques that could see graduates in for example tourism, business studies or international relations have an edge, lower qualifications for example a High School certificate may be just enough for a more determined and astute individual with excellent communications and customer skills. Sales and marketing skills, Information technology and an interest in travel and geography may be of an added advantage.
Travel agents spend much of their time on the phone and computer, making this fairly an office job, but increasingly, thanks to technological advancement, agents are able to operate in a remote mobile mode. To thrive in this field requires a great amount of aggressiveness, research and networking to identify new avenues and opportunities that may be appealing both to existing and new clientele.
Some of the travel agent companies in Uganda among others include; Uganda Travel Bureau (UTB), Alive safaris, Pearlafric, Afritage Tours and Travel, Love Uganda Safaris, Gorilla Tours, Great Lakes Safaris, and so many more. The long list points to the level of competition in the field, which also calls for one to explore creative approaches to winning and retaining clientele. These may also specialize in air ticketing or safaris while some are able to undertake both.
Tourism on the other hand is a qualification offered as course both at degree, diploma and certificate levels, and is often combined together with Leisure and Hospitality. It can be studied in most Ugandan universities at an estimated fee slightly below a Million Uganda Shillings per semester. A level studies in Geography and Economics are a requirement for this course.
Graduates in Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality may choose to be tour guides requiring of them to be well acquainted with the rich Geographical endowments in the country or could delve into the hotel industry. There’s stark connectivity between tourism, Travel agency and the hotel industry as each thrives on the other.
To start up a business in Tour and Travel agency, one would have to register a company with the Registrar of companies (Georgia House) and acquire a certificate of incorporation. This goes along with other requirements like physical address in form of an office and each business must have a distinct name. The services of a lawyer may be handy in drafting the necessary instruments and the process may take about 700,000/=. A further registration requirement for membership with the African Tours and Travel Association gives the business additional authenticity.
Considering that different individuals may have their respective clients, it is possible to combine efforts with different like-minded entities and share office space. This in the long run cuts down the cost of doing business.
Yet while the business of Travel /Tourism can mean to be exciting, it is important to note that its peak is quite seasonal. Most visitors from Europe prefer to hide away during their winter season and summer holiday makers are not as many. Persons involved in this business must therefore remain updated on what’s happening elsewhere in order to be on top of their game in terms of scheduling offers.
At the end of the day, the beauty of the industry is that it fairly involves exchange of foreign currency, and for those lucky to make good deals, it is possible to earn good money out of related businesses without worrying so much about the ever depreciating Shilling.
Article written by;
Tumusiime K. Deo
International Communications Consultant