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Inside Uganda’s robust plan to bolster tourism industry

Passengers arrive at Entebbe Airport and attempt to access the terminal. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – New figures show that Uganda’s tourism industry has continued to generate more revenue than all other sectors, including agriculture posting UGX6.1 trillion in 2018, up from UGX5.2 trillion) in 2017.

The country has also witnessed increased tourism numbers, registering 734,388 visitors, up from 622,295 in the previous year.

The figures are contained in the tourism sector manifesto implementation progress presented by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu.

Prof. Kamuntu said the rise in numbers and revenue to the sustained marketing of Uganda as a preferred destination, saying over the years, the government has continued to provide more funds to the sector to market the country.

“Government provided funding for sustained engagement of market destination representation firms and market activations in the targeted markets. Six firms were deployed in the core markets and the emerging source markets,” Prof Kamuntu said.

The Ugandan tourism sector continues to grow, with 1.8 million tourists visiting Uganda in 2016—a slight increase from 1.3 million in 2015, according to the latest available data.  Uganda’s tourism sector contributed about 10 percent to Uganda’s GDP in FY 2016/2017, becoming the country’s top earner of foreign exchange.  Uganda’s tourism sector is highly sensitive to negative publicity from other parts of the African continent, with news of disease outbreaks or political instability anywhere on the continent negatively affecting Uganda’s tourism numbers.

International airlines, such as Kenya Airways, Egyptian Airways, Ethiopian Airways, South African Airways, Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, SN Brussels, KLM, Turkish Airways, Qatar Airways, and RwandAir, have regular flights in and out of Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport.

Entebbe Internal Airport currently undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade to increase tourist and cargo capacity.  (FILE PHOTO)

Entebbe International Airport is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar upgrade to increase tourist and cargo capacity.

The GOU has purchased aircraft from Bombardier and Airbus with the intent to launch regional routes as early as 2019.

The Kampala Serena and the Sheraton are Kampala’s premier hotels.  Marriott Hotels now operates two Protea Hotels in Uganda — one in Kampala and one near Entebbe International Airport.

Uganda boasts several notable tourist attractions including Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks, for game watching; the Rwenzori Mountains for mountaineering; the source of the Nile and the Nile River for bird watching, white water rafting, and kayaking; and Lake Victoria for a variety of water sports.

Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the UTB CEO speaks to tourists at Serena Hotel Kigo. (PHOTO/JAVIRA SSEBWAMI)

Uganda is one of only three countries with mountain gorilla populations.  Tourists can visit groups of gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks in southwestern Uganda.  Gorilla watching passes are a major source of revenue for the parks and for gorilla conservation efforts.

Tourists can see rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is working to reintroduce rhinos to Uganda’s parks.

Improved transportation networks and upgraded tourist facilities would enable Uganda to take full advantage of its tourism potential.

Travel and Tourism Stats 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Non-resident Arrivals 1,196,765 1,206,334 1,266,046 1,302,802 1,322,522
Resident Arrivals 1,089,581 1,187,710 1,220,167 1,310,199 479,247
Visitors to National Parks 182,149 213,950 202,885 215,558 245,725

Leading Sub-Sectors

Biodiversity

Uganda’s wildlife parks offer tourists opportunities to trek into remote biodiverse environments to interact with endangered species like the mountain gorilla.

Tourists also can enjoy chimpanzee tracking as well as go on safaris to observe savannah wildlife such as lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and countless birdlife.
Adventure:  Uganda claims to be the source of the Nile River at the town of Jinja.  Adventurous tourists can book whitewater rafting or go bungee jumping over the Nile.

Opportunities

Biodiversity hospitality

On May 17, the GOU – in partnership with conservation charity Space for Giants and the African Wildlife Foundation – launched the first investment window to raise funds for protecting Uganda’s wildlife through encouraging investments in tourism h

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