According to the World Tourism Organisation, some of the world’s top tourism destinations are countries where a majority of activities occur near water bodies.
Uganda is endowed with several water bodies like the share of one of the world’s great lakes, Victoria, Lakes Kyoga, Albert and George. However, besides these water bodies exploited for fish and maybe a source of water, little tourism has been developed.
This is mainly because of the poor transport infrastructure facilities like boats plying these water resources.
Indeed, the under-utilisation of the transport system on Lake Victoria is causing the countries sharing the water resource revenue worth $60 billion (Shs222 trillion) annually.
Currently the three member states sharing the lake mainly Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are only earning revenue worth $6b (Shs14.8 trillion) from the resource.
Nevertheless, some individuals and companies have come up with creative ideas to attract people to use these water bodies. This is expected to enable Ugandans to have access to quality and safety boats for transport and entertainment.
One of those companies GetMyBoat – is one of the world’s largest marketplaces for boat rentals and all types of bookable experiences on the water.
It is banking on the growing number of tourists coming to Uganda.
Mr Val Streif, the marketing manager GetMyBoat says: “Uganda is a great market for us. As Uganda’s tourism grew significantly in 2018 and 2019, and as more people are venturing into the country, we want to offer them more options for boating and water experiences to enjoy their time, as well as help locals grow their businesses.”
As a result, “… We want to offer them more options for boating and water experiences to enjoy their time, as well as help locals grow their businesses,” he explains.
Streif says that whether it is a catamaran in California or a kayak in Croatia, they have over 130,000 types of water experiences in 184 countries that can all be booked on the go right from your smartphone!
Streif says prior to GetMyBoat; the boat charter industry was an extremely fragmented market and was inaccessible to most of the public in Uganda.
“In many cases, the only access to boats was via a travel agent that was two levels removed from the boat owner,” he says.
In addition to this, the boating industry has been steadily declining and failing to bring in a new generation of boaters.
This is unfortunate because boating is one of the best ways to have memorable experiences, and is something that shouldn’t be difficult to find, book, and enjoy.
He says: “We use technology to connect people that are looking to get out on the water with charter boat businesses that are in need of customers. Think of us as Expedia for all types of water experiences.”
Since the company has just opened its services to the Ugandan market, so far they have 11 listings in the country.
“There’s a lot of room to grow and expand as more people become aware of GetMyBoat as an option for boat rentals and water experiences,” Streif shares.
He says that as more people choose to subscribe to their app for renting boats, responsive owners who check their inquiries on the app and make good offers to customers, the country’s marine tourism industry will grow.
He says that so far, they have not experienced any challenges or threats.
“We’ve had a great few years of growth and a growing customer base of people who have had amazing experiences renting with us and will continue to use the app for easy boat rentals all over the world,” he said.
How it works
The way this app works is that Ugandans who own boats or boat tour/charter companies can use the GetMyboat app to reach more customers to make secure transactions and earn payments through this platform.
“Local Ugandans who want to get out boating without buying a boat can connect with local owners and enjoy their beautiful country easily,” Streif shares.
He adds that a few ways that GetMyBoat differs from competitors is, “Our number of offerings and global reach. They have 130,000 listings in 184 countries and 9,300 cities/locations, a huge global reach in comparison to others that are more localised.
“We want people around Uganda to have a seamless experience, regardless of where they are booking a boat. We offer a mobile app for easy bookings and 24-hour support to answer any questions users may have,” he adds.