KAMPALA – The Uganda Tourism Board Chairman Daudi Migereko has enumerated what it takes for the country to develop sustainable investment in the tourism sector in Uganda.
Mr. Migereko was speaking during the opening ceremony of the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2020 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala on Tuesday, February 4 at which local tour operators are meeting with international buyers who have just been taken around the country to explore first hand, beauty, and business opportunities.
“Those interested in investment, interact with people here and see if you can make joint ventures,” said Mr. Migereko adding that Uganda is gifted by nature, which Ugandans should exploit to earn more money through tourism.
He said much as tourism’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown tremendously in the past 10 years, the cost for facilities in Uganda could be higher than those of other African countries.
The Expo was officially opened today, by Rt. Hon. Gen (Rtd.) Moses Ali the First Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, on behalf of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. In a speech read for him by Rt. Hon. Moses Ali, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni thanked Uganda Tourism Board for Organising the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, saying that it would go a long way in “expanding business opportunities in the tourism sector in Uganda and the entire East African region.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) told the delegates that Uganda was full of abundant tourism opportunities characterized by the richest tourism attractions portfolio, best value for money for investors and tourists alike and therefore healthy returns on investment.
“We have the richest and most diverse range of human, natural, cultural, religious and historical attractions complemented by a warm tropical climate, warm people, great accommodations and great food,” she said. Ajarova, told the over 200 tourism business leaders from over 20 countries and 4 continents, that because Uganda has the “highest concentration of attractions over a smaller geographical area” where “tourists get to see more for less and there is something for everyone”, as a destination, Uganda offers the best value for money.”
She also said that the healthy growth in visitor arrivals coupled with a vast array of tourism assets presented big returns on tourism investment and that the recent government investments in transport infrastructure had made the country more accessible both from the outside and inland. “It is now easier to get into Uganda by air from virtually anywhere around the world 32,735 flights in and out of Uganda in FY18/19. With Uganda Airlines, there will be faster and more convenient direct routes especially from Africa. Today, it is also easier to get around by air, road and water,” she said.
Col (Rtd.) Tom Butime, the new Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, also invited the delegates to explore the immense potential presented by Destination Uganda. “Numbers don’t lie,” he said he told the tourism operators; “We do offer, probably the best value for money per dollar spent and there is something for everyone- regardless of age, gender, budget, and preferences,” he said.
Mr Butime said that on top of healthy visitor numbers and the richest attractions portfolio on the continent, Uganda offered one of the most abundant investment incentive regimes in the tourism sector.
Hon. Kiwanda Godfrey Ssuubi, the Minister of State for Tourism and Antiquities, Rev Fr. Simon Lokodo, the Minister for Ethics & Integrity, Uganda Tourism Board Members, as well as several Members of Parliament, ambassadors, and private sector players, attended the launch ceremony.
“67 tour operators have already been recruited to sell Uganda’s tourist attractions to several other countries,” added Mr. Kiwanda.
Speaking on behalf of the private sector, Mrs. Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the President, Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) thanked UTB’s new management organising POATE 2020 and called upon the government to invest more in industry capacity building, new product development, capital investments and facilitating access to affordable financing.
“Interest rates ranging from 18-25% from commercial banks are prohibitive for direct investment in the private sector. UTA members would wish to have access to affordable financing for this sector,” she said, adding that access to more affordable financing for the sector, “would translate into a broader tax base and by extension, more tax revenue.”
UTA is an umbrella organization that brings together all tourism trade Associations in Uganda that represent 7,000 tourism professionals, comprising of tour operators, travel agents, accommodation facilities, tour guides, and community-based organizations and arts and crafts.
POATE, which is taking place at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, an on the shores of Lake
Victoria has attracted over 57 international hosted buyers, 140 domestic and regional tourism operators as well as international and domestic media.
The expo is running under the theme, ‘Promoting Intra-Africa Travel’ in a bid to raise
awareness about the untapped potential presented by emerging African travel