KAMPALA – Uganda’s development and future prospects are closely linked to the harnessing of its rich but declining natural capital base. Despite reasonable economic growth rates attained in the past two decades, all environment and natural resource sustainability indicators depict a downward trend.
The declining quantity, quality, diversity, and productivity of the country’s natural resource base pose major threats to national security, prosperity, and development, conservationists have warned.
Speaking to PML Daily at the sidelines of World Tourism Day celebrations held at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Mr. David Duli Uganda Country Director World Wildlife Fund called for an urgent need to rethink the current economic growth model from one that over-depletes natural resources to one that will simultaneously deliver environmental sustainability, economic growth without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.
Mr. Duli said that the green tourism development model which seeks to reduce negative environmental impact and promote safety and ultimately leading to environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable enterprises and economies present a unique opportunity for Uganda’s accelerated economic growth and transition in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“We are looking at sustainability, something that can go on and on… without being destroyed. How do you manage consumptive use under tourism without depleting the resources of tourism? Those are the critical things we need to look at,” he said.
Mr. Duli added that Uganda can achieve even greater prosperity and well-being by scaling up its green investments in key sectors, while also factoring the conservation and efficient use of its natural capital into future decisions.
He also outlined the benefits of scaling up agroforestry and sustainable water management and recommends supporting organic farming among others in the green tourism development path.
Uganda’s natural capital, comprising its high agricultural potential, a burgeoning eco-tourism industry, and a young and energetic population, all provide a solid foundation for the transition to a green economy. Uganda has several operational, ongoing, and planned green growth projects and initiatives in which both Government and non-State actors have shown commendable interest in greening the Ugandan economy.
Covid-19 aftereffects on the Tourism sector
Tourism actors in Uganda gathered at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, on Monday to celebrate World Tourism Day, which is celebrated every September 27.
This year’s celebration was themed “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.” with the national focus on placing a high priority on local participation in tourism activities.
State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Mugarra Martin Bahenduka, presided over the event as the chief guest.
The tourism sector has encountered major disruptions and losses since the pandemic began, to place it in perspective, prior to the pandemic in 2019, Uganda welcomed over a 1.5million visitors and received US$1.6 Billion in tourist revenue, this was cut to one third in the following year and the prospects of 2021 are equally bleak.
Minster Bahenduka said the government has launched digitized tour maps and tourism services directories produced for the promotion of domestic and regional tourism as a means to revive the industry and ensuring rural community products are consumed.
“The most critical issue now is the impact that covid19 has had on the tourism sector….we have all agreed that to have a more resilient tourism sector especially through challenges like covid19, is by developing and promoting domestic tourism,” he said.
“We are celebrating our own attractions and calling upon Ugandans, please and tour this beautiful country,” he said, noting, “You will also be making a contribution to the economy and the sector.
“We have tailored particular packages that a more pocket friendly for the domestic consumer.”