Kicker Robin Josso is a Dutch journalist who fell in love with Uganda in 2014! She confesses to loving eating, socializing and is good at telling stories with her camera.
What do you do for a living?
I am a journalist by profession. I loved to write back in the days, but when I got introduced to the TV during my internship at the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC TV), I immediately fell in love with TV-making.
Where did your love for journalism begin?
When I was a young girl I didn’t really know what I wanted to become. I loved writing, so it was more of a one plus one sum. So I decided to join journalism school.
The first year was very exciting but the years after it felt a bit draining. I was almost at the point of quitting, but then I did my internship here in Uganda. And wow! I am so glad I never quit because this was the best experience ever! I got to meet so many new people, and got the opportunity to travel around Uganda and even East Africa!
What makes you proud as a practicing journalist?
Well, several things. Of course, it is nice to hear from people “hey, I saw your story on television, that was a good one!”. But what is even more satisfying is that you spread the word to the public.
You tell them something that they might not know of yet, or they need to know more about. I love to share people’s stories and put a smile on their faces.
How can journalism and communication be fused with travel and tourism?
It happens a lot. Nowadays you see a lot of influencers talking about tourist destinations. This is PR. But as a journalist, you can talk about these destinations in a different way.
For example, one time I went to Kidepo Valley National Park. This is the only park in Uganda where you can find Cheetahs, so cool! However, these cheetahs are in danger since poachers are trying to get them for their skin.
A sad story, but on the other hand a story that needs to be told! A story that hopefully helps by making people realize that protection of these animals is needed. For wildlife but in the end also for tourism! Imagine a park without animals… tourists won’t come.
Have you used your professional skills to enhance travel?
Hotels need marketing. Without marketing their business is unlikely to be booming. By marketing, I mean: spreading the world (online)! A good tool for that is videos, showing your potential customers what you can offer them.
It is just up to you to approach these hotels that are lacking this marketing and tell them what you can offer. In my case: videos! Because of this, I have traveled to some pretty cool places.
What has been your best travel moment?
Definitely, the first ‘Tulambule’ trip we had here in Uganda. The ministry of tourism wanted to promote domestic tourism. Because let’s face it: most tourists in parks and tourism sides are foreigners, yet why not locals?
We got to the bottom of that. Because honestly, the locals are the best way to promote their country, but how can they do that if they don’t know their own country so well?
The tour was all about promoting tourism among the locals. We traveled to all the National Parks in Uganda and I got to see so many amazing places. Definitely the best work trip ever!
What made the experience of this destination unique and special?
The people! Definitely the people. You are all so friendly, something that I am not so used to in my home country the Netherlands. I mean, if some strangers here say hi to you on the street, you say hi back and you can even have a small conversation.
In the Netherlands, it is likely that you will get a funny face or even some bad words. Besides that, the weather and nature are amazing. And I didn’t even talk about your cultures yet, so amazing! It is actually a combination of so many factors.
What makes or breaks your experience while on a travel excursion?
What makes my experience on travel is definitely the guide. I have been on trips quite a number of times and a good guide is really a deal maker! Someone who has knowledge about where he is, but also someone who is like a friend to you.
Someone who understands you as a tourist and someone you can joke around with. Because let’s be honest: if you have a grumpy tour guide, will you really have a good time? A deal-breaker is, therefore: a grumpy guide.
What destinations are your bucket list, and why?
I would love to hike Mount Rwenzori one day. I know it’s a tough one and I know I need to do a lot of training, but mark my words: one day I will be on the top! Outside of Uganda? Egypt! Egypt is so beautiful and historically interesting.
What brings you alive in Uganda?
I get that question a lot actually. People (Ugandans) don’t understand why I live here. Because “You can live in the Netherlands and earn a lot of money, why would you want to be here where money is scarce!?”
Good point, however, money is not everything. Yes, having enough makes life easier but I think my mental health and happiness are so much more important. In the Netherlands I don’t feel happy, everything is so rushed, you are put under pressure all the time and the weather is mostly not that great.
Being in Uganda makes me feel happy and relaxed. Besides that, over time I have met some really great people here whom I now call family. But also: I can go on a weekend trip to a park, I can go hiking, take a boat ride on Lake Victoria or visit the amazing Karamojong tribe just a few hours away from me. I mean, Uganda has so much to offer!
What would you like to see done better in the local tourism sector?
Hmm, quite a lot. The good thing is that I see it addressed more and more lately. Domestic tourism is a topic you hear about everywhere and I think tourism stakeholders are really doing a great job.
However, there is still much to be done. For example, Tourists from Europe or America can afford accommodation here. But are there also affordable accommodations for locals?
I mean, the park fees for example are very affordable for locals, but when it comes to accommodation and food it really doesn’t add up. You even need to pay in dollars.
However, recently I met a Ugandan who developed an app called “Tubayo” to boost local tourism. It is like Airbnb but then made for the local Ugandan market. No dollar prices, all charged in shillings, and more important: affordable! I wish such people would get more attention in the country.
What are those things you consider important and dear to you?
Family. Maybe a cliché answer but very true though. My family is very supportive and always has my back. Even though I make decisions that maybe won’t make them the happiest (me being in Uganda for example, of course, they would love it for me to be close to them). But they always tell me to do whatever makes me happy.
Who is Josso away from work?
Haha, Josso is a social animal who enjoys good series, but also a good party or drink up with friends. Because friends are very important to her. She can easily adjust to a situation and makes one feel like they have known each other for ages. Josso loves adventure and can’t wait for the next adventures to come. You can recognize her easily because most of the time she carries a camera with her and has a huge smile on her face.