KAMPALA – Integration of Uganda into a number one tourism stop center in Africa is to depend on the way the government will support the industry, in the post-Covid-19 era.
The power of making the Pearl of Africa shine its pride as the leading tourism stopover on the entire black man’s continent is posing a number of questions to the Ugandan authorities, as it requires providing heavy support to the sector, furthermore, improving the road networks that connects to such destinations, experts said.
Based on the 2019 statistics report released by the International Congress and Convention Association, an association which represents the world’s leading associations for the global meetings, conferences, and event industry, ranked Uganda the sixth most popular destination in Africa for hosting International Conferences and events Industry.
According to the article published in the New York Times travel magazine, titled 52 places to go in 2020, Uganda was put in the 30th position, describing the Pearl of Africa as a Primate capital and birder’s paradise.
Being recommended to be the best environment for tourists, Uganda moved up the rankings by 174th position worldwide, from the far place she used to be ten years ago, joining the world recognized sector.
The country’s tourism sector has tremendously over the last decade with improvement in security, and huge infrastructure investments from the private sector and government, however, many challenges remain, which includes the need for government to develop the sector in skills upgrading, investing in the parks, including those which are privately owned, and not forgetting much stronger marketing efforts for its boosterism., according to www.destinationuaganda.com.
Nalule Yvonne, a tourism expert says, the industry has made remarkable progress in the last three decades, and the government is remaining with a few issues to tackle in order for the tourism industry is able to compete with that of Kenya and Tanzania.
“There is progress, and the industry is quite promising, compared to what we had in the late 80s and 70s, during the time of the cycle of dictatorship and civil unrests that shattered everything, however, as government supports public parks, it’s also its a mandate to support private parks because play the same role,” says Ms. Nalule in an interview with PML Daily.
PML Daily news publication has established that although the tourism sector in Uganda, is driven by the private sector, and government-led Ministry to provide conducive and regulations of the sector, private parks cannot stand on their own, without government intervention.
This was confirmed by Steven Asiimwe, a senior educator at the Uganda Reptile Village In Entebbe, during an interview with PML Daily Correspondent in Entebbe
“It is not simple to manage parks without government rendering assistance, more so in this time of Covid-19, when lockdowns are becoming the order of the day, such facilities survive only on entrance fees and without anyone visiting the park, as it was during the lockdown, life gates tough,” said Steven Asiimwe.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, in 2020, was recognized to be a pandemic, the sector registered massive losses, characterized by the business shutdown, tourist bookings cancellations, closure of National and private parks, which led to jobs and livelihood loss.
In vain as a father and husband, Asiimwe explained, he almost lost his job after the facility, lacking funds to support staff and their products being wildlife, were nearly starving to death, despite all messages sent to the government for intervention, no time they came to rescue the facility.
In an interview with PML Daily, Ms. Nakandi Penelope the managing director of Giraffe Safari tours and travel company said, the government should focus more on constructing roads if it is to massively improve the sector’s earnings massively.
“We in this business, we are appealing to governments to construct good roads, being that the parks most of them are located in remote areas, the roads are not cared for, and this makes them passable, which also affects the development of the industry,” she said.
According to the 2019 report published by the International Growth Center of Uganda, indicated that the country’s tourism brand remains relatively weak and is not commonly recognized beyond borders, due to the low level of funds available to market the sector.
The report also went ahead to advise Uganda Tourism Board and other stakeholders the need to support the Pearl of Africa slogan worldwide, which so far the country’s Civil Aviation Authority has done, when it branded the slogan on the wings of the country’s national carriers.
Tourism as a sector has a highly transformative power to the country’s economy if fully harnessed, for example, the sector attracts 100,000 additional leisure tourists, of which they make 11 percent to exports, and 1.6 percent to the GDP, persuading a tourist to spend one night in the country would add 7 percent to exports, adding 1.0 percent to GDP.
However, government through National Development Plan III, measures to develop the sector is put in place to manage the crisis and mitigation the socio-economic impacts on boosting competitiveness and building resilience in the tourism sector, among these included, promotion of domestic and inbound tourism, increase the stock and quality of tourism infrastructure and developing, conserving and diversity of tourism products and services.
PML Daily made all efforts to speak to Uganda Tourism Board mouthpiece Ms. Sandra Natukunda, but her number couldn’t be connected to seek further explanation.
The tourism industry as an economic transformative force, its contribution to GDP, is almost reaching Ugx sh.8.36 trillion, and tourism foreign earnings rising from US$ 834 million to US$ 1.6 billion in 2018 and supporting 570,000 jobs by 2018.