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 corresponding to 8.1% of all tourist guides. This figure is still exaggerating the current situation as only ten out of them are really guiding in the field. 

For Rwanda, the Rwanda Development Board has registered five female guides out of 183 tourist guides in Rwanda. This implies that only 2.7 % of all active tourist guides in Rwanda are women.

This is why, Kigezi Biota Tours in partnership with the Safari Guides Associations in both Uganda and Rwanda has developed a project to foster the active involvement of trained female tourist guides in their profession. The idea is simple. Through the facilitation of apprenticeships and mentorships in tourist guiding women guides acquire first hand practical, on-the-job experience and skills that 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 their male counterparts. Kigezi Biota is observing a trend today that most tourists are more comfortable when guided by a female tourist guide. 

“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. The project is supported through the joint EAC and GIZ Intra-Regional Trade Facility (IRTF).

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. 

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. Furthermore, they will support the project in making connections between apprentices and tour operators for employment opportunities.

The launch of the project has already been successfully conducted on 13 November 2021 in Kabale, Uganda. So far, over 100 women are lining up for this new opportunity in tourist guiding. 

"This is a great opportunity that should be seized by as many female guides as possible", notes 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."

Now, examples can be set, showing that women are doing excellent work in tourist guiding and should 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 tourist guiding – AFRICAN PEARL NEWS https://apearlnews.com/2021/2021/11/17/females-urged-to-embrace-tour-guiding/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/261822407275502/posts/3141351845989196/?app=fbl

In local and national broadcasting:
https://youtu.be/CKWk-n0rOdk
https://youtube.com/channel/UCfvHpgWMOrs31Gs3mRzIN2A
https://youtu.be/EVUYnv5qhXo