KAMPALA – The Minister of Tourism, Ephraim Katuntu has warned the media against running what he called alarming reports on violence in Uganda, saying such reports are hurting the tourism sector.
Katuntu made the remarks today at the Press Briefing held at Uganda Media Centre where he was briefing the nations of activities to mark the World Tourism Day.
Kamuntu pointed the recent violent scenes that marred the country following the Arua Municipality by-elections that resulted into clashes between security forces and civilians that saw 33suspects arrested and charged with treason, while five Ugandans lost their lives following the fiasco.
He cautioned journalists on the way they present the violence, saying some alarmist reports discourage tourists from coming to Uganda especially when their respective Governments issues travel advisories.
“The way you report the security situation in the country has ramifications. Those who do alarming reporting when the security doesn’t warrant it, I want you to see how it affects the people because tourism is sensitive to security, the moment you have unwarranted demonstrations, uncalled for confrontations, potential tourists cancel their bookings, we get travel advisories from embassies to their nationals at home to be careful about travelling to Uganda,” Kamuntu argued.
He added: “If you report and these advisories are sent, do you think the consequences of that action of your reporting?”
In 2017, Uganda earned USD1.4Billion which represents USD100M increase from 2016 in foreign income and the country is expected to generate more from the sector if the relevant investments are made to spur its growth, with a robust marketing strategy being looked at as a critical move to register the desired growth.
The World Tourism Day is held globally every September 27 and activities in Uganda will run from 6th-28th at Source of the Nile in Jinja.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is; ‘Tourism and Digital Transformation’ and the theme has been chosen to help raise awareness on how digitally transformed sector can improve entrepreneurship, inclusion and local community empowerment.
The players in the sector argue that the theme will give visibility to innovative ideas capable of revolutionalising the way we travel and enjoy tourism.
Despite fears by Kamuntu that the violent scenes are hurting the sector, the experts in the field rebuffed the allegations with John Ssempebwa, Deputy Executive Director, Uganda Tourism Board noting that the outlook for the sector remains positive despite the political chaos as tourists continue trickling in.
Ssempebwa explained: “Irrespective of what is happening, our heads are up the numbers are going up we have already received an equal number of tourists from the UK, Germany, US, equal to what we got last year, this is peak time, go check the parks are full, there hasn’t been any significant impact.”