According to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), tourism is the top foreign exchange earner taking over foreign remittances.
In 2013, the tourism sector contributed 7.9% to Uganda’s GDP totaling to about sh5.5 trillion with an investment as little as sh800m last year. The return on investment is high and it shows that tourism could create more revenue with more investment.
The tourism industry has contributed employment to more than 500,000 people, said Andrew Seguya the UWA’s executive director, launch of the tourism master plan 2014-2024. The plan is a collection of strategies geared towards transforming the tourism sector.
The tourism master plan seeks to harness adventure, wildlife, cultural and religious tourism among other products. It also highlights the need to market the products being developed for tourists and construction of better infrastructure like roads to most safari destinations.
Other strategies include training tour guides, tour operators and hoteliers and improving country’s image locally and globally that will contribute to the growth of the tourism industry. “We have to create an impression that Uganda is worth visiting,” said Seguya, adding that Uganda’s neighbours like Kenya and Rwanda, are investing a lot more in marketing.
Dr. Maria Mutagamba, the minister of tourism said the master plan is now in place to harness tourism and contribute to the transformation of the economy – this is time for Government, donors and private sector to invest more in the sector.
Onesmus Muhwezi, the country representative of UNDP, pointed out that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy globally. He added that Uganda’s tourism, if developed will provide employment opportunities, growth in the transport and agricultural sector and contribute to poverty alleviation.
The number of leisure trvellers and holiday makers, who are among the highest spenders has increased from 9% to 16% within last year said Grace Awulo Mbabazi, a director at the ministry of tourism.
She also noted that Uganda faces challenges coming from negative advisories, and later adding that the master plan also targets to increase domestic and regional tourism to raise revenue.
The foreign remittances from Uganda’s migrant workers abroad had in the recent years overtaken fish and coffee as the top foreign exchange earner. Currently, foreign exchange earnings have been relegated to number two behind tourism.