The Uganda government has earmarked a staggering Shs 32bn for the tourism sector which is expected to attract at least 4 million tourists per year by the year 2020.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the tourism sector today earns USD 1.4 billion compared to USD 498.3 Million in 2008.
“By 2020, tourism is targeted to earn USD 2.7 billion annually and tourist visitors are expected to reach 4 million per year, compared to 1.3 million today,” said Kasaija.
He said this would be realized through sustained conservation of tourism resources to “guarantee the viability” of the sector.
Poaching, underfunding and poor awareness campaigns have been at the heart of Uganda tourism’s poof performance.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics’ Statistical Abstract, International visitor arrivals to Uganda increased from 1,302,802 in 2015 to 1,322,522 in 2016, indicating a 1.5 percent increase.
U.S.A remained the top contributor to visitor arrivals to the country with 57,959 visitor arrivals, followed by United Kingdom (39,539), India (30,210), China (19,175) and Germany (10,586).
In Africa, Rwanda contributed the biggest visitor arrival figure to Uganda with 362,865 visitors, followed by Kenya (352,817), DR Congo (90,148), Tanzania (86,091) and Sudan (35,353).
18 percent of the total visitor arrivals to Uganda in 2016 visited for purposes of leisure, recreation and holiday, while 22 percent visited for business and professional conferences, 38 percent were visiting friends and relatives and
ChimpReports understands 22 percent visited for other reasons such as transit, education and medical among others.
Reading the budget for the financial year 2017/2018 at Kampala Serena Hotel on Thursday, Kasaija said Government has intensified land patrols in the national game parks in order protect tourism resources.
“In addition, Government has engaged communities in proximity to the national parks to ensure heritage conservation,” said Kasaija.
The Minister said Uganda was showcased as a tourist destination at three international expos including the China Expo, the World Travel Market (WTM) London, and the International Tourism Fair in Spain (FITUR).
He further said market representation is being procured to cover other markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, China, United Arab Emirates and Japan as well as promoting domestic tourism.
Kasaija said maintenance work has been undertaken for a total of 368kms of roads in various National Game Parks and Reserves to further harness Uganda’s tourism potential and enhance access to tourist sites.
Government will as well redevelop tourist infrastructure including the renovation of the Uganda National Museum, building walkways at several sites on Mt Rwenzori and constructing 40-bed accommodation each at Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley.
Using PPP arrangements, government also intends to develop Kalangala and Itanda tourism sites, as well as the Dolwe Islands cultural Site; and expand Namugongo Martyrs shrine.
Kasaija said government will go ahead to reduce conflicts between humans and wildlife by maintaining existing 210 kms and excavation of an additional 100km elephant trenches in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP), Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP), and Kibaale National Park (KNP).
Government also intends to develop the country as a regional hub for biodiversity and cultural tourism as well as providing incentives for conferences, meetings and exhibitions.