The potential of Makerere University heritage (1922-2011) resources for urban tourism development.
Urban tourism is enhancing revenues and conservation initiatives in most cities around the world. It has, however, not attracted much attention from researchers and the private sector in Uganda, leading to degradation of fragile ecosystems within urban centres. A one year’s study was designed to assess the biodiversity and anthropological resources of Makerere University for urban tourism development. Questionnaires were administered to 40 respondents. Thirty vegetation plots were assessed for woody species composition while trail and timed species count was used to generate an avian species list. Species diversity and spatial data were analyzed using Shannon–Wiener’s Diversity Index (H') and Arc View respectively. Logistic regression was applied to test the relationship between respondents’ socio-demographic variables and willingness to pay (WTP) for tour services. Findings indicate that Makerere University has resources to attract tourists from the global and local markets. The average willingness to pay was UGX 49,000 ($20.0) per visit. The socio-demographic characteristics such as, nationality, age, marital status, income or education level, did not influence (P>0.05) respondents’ WTP. An extrapolation showed that a monthly income of UGX 20,000,000 could be generated from tour guiding alone. The magnificent main building, the university’s history and key personalities, respectively were ranked as the top most attractants to the institution. President Museveni’s Science Initiative was highly appraised for supporting innovations including KIIRA Electric Vehicle and value addition to food products by the respondents. Forty-eight woody species (H’=3.15) belonging to 25 families and dominated by the invasive Senna spectabilis and 34 avian species (H’=2.0) from 23 families were recorded. The Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata) and the Grey-backed Fiscal Shrike (Lanius excubitoroides) that were last sighted in Makerere University in late 1980s, by some of the respondents, are in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Makerere University Tourism Strategic Plan should be developed to guide tourism revenue generation and the conservation of the University’s ecosystem. An Environmental Interpretation Centre should also be established. Further research is necessary to assess trends in WTP, biodiversity, product-place marketing and resource and visitor management in Makerere University.