Travelling GOOD in Uganda

Eliza Raymond
Jul 23, 2023

There are many things I love about working for GOOD Travel, but if I had to pick one thing that really makes me grateful for my job, it's the people that I get to connect with through this work. Meeting fellow GOOD travellers and sustainable tourism entrepreneurs makes me feel hopeful about our world and inspired about the power of individuals to create positive change.

We receive a lot of inquiries at GOOD Travel from tourism businesses seeking to partner with us. A lot are inquiries from regular tourism companies, but it's when we are contacted by someone who clearly shares GOOD Travel's values and vision that I get especially excited as I'm reminded that there is GOOD in every corner of the world!

I was recently contacted by Justice Tourism Foundation in Uganda. Their name in itself is inspiring - and then I read their mission statement!

Our mission is to provide ethical, engaging, and creative travel experiences that facilitate genuine cross-cultural connection and learning opportunities, inspiring compassion towards fellow human beings.

Although we don't yet have any trips to Uganda, I asked their founder James Nadiope if he would be willing to work with us on a blog article to raise awareness about how to be a GOOD traveller in Uganda, so here we are.

Introducing social entrepreneur, Mr Nadiope

Let's start by introducing Mr Nadiope, the founder and director of Justice Tourism Foundation. Here he is with David Clarke, a recent volunteer from the UK.

Mr Nadiope was born in the tourism city of Jinja located in the Eastern region of Uganda. He was always at the top of his class and seen as a leader within his high school. He explains:

My life was poised to be a remarkable success until 1982. After the death of my father, I was left as an orphan and could not continue with my schooling. Plunged into the world of a vagabond, I became a jack of all trades to survive. I have been a porter, house boy, a church minister, travel agent, radio and TV talk show presenter, motivational speaker, tourism consultant and a social entrepreneur.

The horrific loss of his father in 1982 did not break Mr Nadiope's childhood ambition to succeed and to help others. In 2005 he established International Volunteers Network, in 2014 he founded the Africa Sustainable Tourism Care Foundation, and most recently in 2017 he began Justice Tourism Foundation.

Justice Tourism Foundation is a grassroots, non-profit social impact travel organisation with a mission to craft the most inspiring alternative, sustainable and socially responsible travel experiences. It is founded on Mr Nadiope's core belief - in line with ours at GOOD Travel - that tourism can become a force for GOOD. He says:

I believe travel has the unique ability to strengthen economies and improve the quality of life in communities all over the world. At Justice Travel Foundation, we aim to change lives by working from a grassroots level to address community identified needs, through a simple, yet effective method of reallocating funds from the tourism industry back into community initiatives.

Tourism in Uganda today

Tourism plays a leading role in Uganda's economy. The tourism industry contributes significantly to Uganda’s gross domestic product, provides employment to many Ugandans and is a major source of foreign currency.

However, although tourism is viewed as an engine of economic growth and development in Uganda, the sector is mostly dominated by both foreigners and local tour companies who focus on profit maximization. According to Mr Nadiope, these companies often leave out the local communities - even though it is these very communities that are the custodians of local natural resources and represent a central part of the tourism experience. He states:

According to the UN, as little as 5% of international travel spending actually reaches local communities, which applies to our local communities in Uganda.  The vast majority of travel dollars end up with airlines, big box hotels, booking sites and travel agents, leaving fragile environments damaged and local residents with empty pockets. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Mr Nadiope's vision for tourism in Uganda

Through his work in the tourism industry, Mr Nadiope has seen the potential for tourism to have a positive impact on communities and the environment. He states:

My vision is of a world where tourism brings greater benefits for local communities in terms of job creation, poverty reduction and environmental management.

This is exactly what he is trying to achieve through Justice Tourism Foundation (JTF). In addition to strengthening communities by putting money directly into the hands of locals and supporting work to preserve natural and cultural heritage, he also sees JTF as an opportunity to educate tourists. His goal is to build a global community of impact-minded (conscious) travelers who want to move beyond traditional tourism to engage in genuine cross-cultural connection and learning opportunities - inspiring compassion towards fellow human beings. He explains:

JTF is uniquely positioned to create tour experiences that blend outstanding wildlife viewing with the chances to see JTF’s projects and learn about critical conservation issues from the local people. We aim to educate, inform and share knowledge with travellers and businesses to encourage sustainable and responsible tourism.

Advice for GOOD travellers

So, if you're considering a trip to Uganda - or anywhere in the world for that matter - Mr Nadiope has some GOOD advice for us all:

We believe sustainable tourism is not just travelling for fun, it is when people travel to learn, help, and empower. The purpose of such a trip is to become more aware and conscious of the gifts of nature endowed on mankind.
Hence social impact travel (sustainable tourism, conscious travel, responsible travel) invites visitors to check the purity of their intentions at the door, cultivate a conscious approach in being part of sustainable work in the community, and do good instead of just feeling good.

Note: GOOD Travel scans the globe for organisations and individuals committed to doing GOOD work in the tourism sector. In order to elevate the great work we learn about, we occasionally interview organisations and individuals we do not know personally such as the Justice Tourism Foundation in order to share their story and inspire change. Do you know of other organisations or individuals doing GOOD work that we should highlight? Let us know! For more details on how and why we feature different tourism businesses, please see our terms of service.

July 23, 2023
5 min read