KAMPALA – Finance minister Matia Kasaija has during the national budget reading at Kampala Serena Hotel revealed that the tourism sector has made dramatic progress and currently ranks as the highest foreign exchange earning sector.
He noted that this year, appropriate legislation will be enacted and vigorously enforced to preserve cultural sites and monuments and deter illicit trafficking of protected wildlife and antiquities.
“World-class skills will be built in hospitality and tourists handling, wildlife conservation, tour and travel management, food and beverage services,” he said.
Among the plans for the tourism sector in this financial year, the minister said that government will upgrade and renovate key tourism infrastructure, including airfields and priority roads to improve accessibility.
According the budget speech, he revealed that Finance has allocated UGX193.7bn to the tourism sector.
Last week during the state of the nation address at the same venue President Museveni also noted that tourism has increasingly become important to Uganda’s economy.
He noted that the sector is a driving force in propelling economic growth and that it continues to be the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda generating US$1.45 bn foreign exchange earnings in 2017 compared to USD 1.37 billion in 2016.
In 2018, according to the head of state, the sector registered increased performance as reflected in the visits to Uganda’s National Parks and other sites including Uganda Wild Life Education Centre and the Source of the Nile.
He noted that visitors to National Parks increased by 39,674 from 285,671 in 2017 to 325,345 in 2018. This is a great score for Uganda Tourism, the top foreign exchange earner for the country’s economy.
Although the proportion of leisure visitors to total visitor arrivals is still relatively small, he said it increased from 18% in 2016 to 20.1 % in 2017 and Tourist arrivals into Uganda have steadily increased from 850,000 in 2008 to over 1.4 million arrivals in 2017.
On direct contribution of Tourism to GDP, the President said that in 2017 was UGX 2,699.1billion (2.9% of GDP) while the total contribution including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts, was UGX 6,888.5bn in 2017 (7.3% of GDP), up from UGX 6,171.5bn in 2016.
In terms of contribution to employment in the economy, Mr Museveni noted that the sector generated 229,000 jobs directly in 2017 (2.4% of total employment).
This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services but excluding commuter services.
Mr. Museveni said that the overall goal for the Government is to attract 4 million tourist arrivals and increase the contribution of tourism to GDP from Shillings 7.3 trillion to Shillings 14.68 trillion at the end of the year 2020.
To achieve this, he said government will continue to focus on Human-Wildlife Conflict; Community engagements; Resource Conservation; Research and Ecological monitoring and the general management of Uganda’s 10 National Parks and 12 Wildlife Reserves.