KAMPALA – As the ruling party NRM continues to inform the public where it has reached and what it needs to do to fast-track the implementation of its manifesto commitments, the Ministry for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has reported enhanced domestic tourism promotion to ensure the sustainability of tourism business amidst declines in international tourist arrivals.
The Ministry also noted that Explore Uganda brand rolled out and promoted in 6 regional and 5 international markets.
“As a result, Uganda gained international visibility e.g on CNN where Uganda was recognised as one of the top 23 destinations to visit in 2023,” said Bahinduka Mugarra Martin, Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
He noted that Uganda’s Tourism products were promoted in 9 domestic and tourism events and campaigns e.g the Elgon Campaign, Explore west campaign.
The minister revealed that the Government has provided a conducive environment for tourism to flourish.
“Civil works are ongoing on 19 tourism roads (about 948kms) including Masindi-Para; Pakwach-Para; Hoima – Biiso Masindi -Wanseko; Buliisa-Para; Namugongo Ring Road; Jinja – Bujagali -Itanda falls; Kyenjojo – Kigarale – Kahunge –Rwamwanja – Kihura; Bisozi – Bihanga – Buremba – Kazo; Luku – Kalangala – Lutoboka; Access Road to Mweya and Katwe; Biiso-Masindi section; Masindi-Biiso-Butiaba Port; Rukungiri-Kihihi; Kihihi – Kanyantorogo section lies along Kanungu – Kihihi 9.2 kms and Kihihi-Ishasha 11kms; Ishasha – Katunguru; Kanungu – Hamurwa; Soroti – Amuria – Obalanga – Achan Pii.”
Mr. Mugarra noted that Hoima International Airport is about 90% complete and Entebbe International Airport expansion is at advanced stages, but also Uganda Airlines has been fully operationalised.
He said that they have registered 157, inspected 165 and licensed 108 Tour and Travel Operators; registered 39, assessed 236 tourist guides and licensed 65 Tour Guides and registered 24, inspected 43 and licensed 47 Accommodation Facilities from Eastern and Western Uganda
He said that they have been able to showcase Uganda’s investment opportunities in international markets including the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) held in Morocco.
The minister revealed that they have managed to secure 9 acres of land in Entebbe and titled it for the proposed Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre.
“We have continued to protect, manage and sustain 22 Protected Areas (10 National Parks and 12 Wildlife Reserves) across the country. These cover about 10% of Uganda’s surface area,” said Mr. Mugarra.
He added, “UWEC modernized with establishment of; acquisition of 4 new animal species (Giant eagle owl, Debrazer monkey, Tigers and a reed buck); golf carts; upgrade and re-greening of 5 animal exhibits; acquisition of outreach truck; rehabilitation of the wildlife quarantine centre; establishment of a kids mini-zoo and play areas. UWEC hosted 486,313 visitors in 2022, much higher than 383,398 in 2019.”
60 acres of land, he said has been secured from NFA in Mbale municipality for the establishment of the Regional UWEC satellite centre
The minister noted that three new exhibits were established at Uganda Museum i.e Amin, Uganda Apes (Ndahura silverback) and National History Exhibition Uganda @60, but also secured land for the proposed Fort Portal Museum
The ministry also reported Kagulu Hills tourism product modernized with concrete steps, rail guards and chains, starting platform, two viewpoints, a monument, and a shelter structure to increase tourist competitiveness, safety, capacity of the site and accessibility.
The Source of the Nile modern pier is under implementation and will have facilities including a dock for 19 boats, a viewing bridge, 2 water fountains and ancillary facilities, said Mr. Mugarra.
“Rwenzori Mountain’s hiking facilities established including 2 tourist camps, 3,200 meters of boardwalks, 650 metres of climbing ladders.”
Expected Programme results
The ministry is expected to increase annual tourism revenues from USD 1.45 billion to USD 1.862 billion;
Maintain the contribution of tourism to total employment at 667,600 people;
Increase inbound tourism revenues per visitor from USD1,052 to USD1,500;
Maintain the average number of International Tourist arrivals from the U.S, Europe, Middle East, China and Japan at 225,300 tourists;
Increase the proportion of leisure to total tourists from 20.1 percent to 30 percent; and
Increase the number of direct flight routes to Europe and Asia from 6 to 15.
However, the minister revealed that they are challenged with limited marketing and advertisement of the new brand resulting in limited Brand visibility and negative perceptions of the brand within the industry.
Also, natural calamities and health issues such as Ebola, storms, Earth Quakes, and floods were key challenges.
Poor infrastructure, especially road network and water transport which makes accessibility poor is also a big bottleneck.
“Inadequate and unskilled manpower/personnel: The quality of personnel available to work in the tourism sector is generally low resulting into poor service delivery. Upgrade of training institutions (UHTTI and UWRTI) is ongoing to offer internationally competitive training,” said the minister.
He also decried persistent wildlife conservation challenges such as poaching, Human-wildlife conflict, invasive species, climate change and scarcity of water especially in savannah areas.
Other hindrances included poor or lack of Internet access especially in Protected Areas and inadequate quality regulation in the sect.
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