Players in the tourism sector have requested government to increase the budget for tourism marketing if the sector is to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected the globe.
Richard Kawere, the CEO Uganda Tourism Association, says tourism has been the most affected sector and as soon as the pandemic ends, government should invest heavily if the sector is to bounce back.
Before the Coronavirus outbreak in January 2020, Uganda’s tourism sector expected to attract as much as two million dollars into the country 2019/2020 financial year. The sector had brought in 1.6million dollars in the 2018/2019 FY.
Kawere explains that, “Our pick time always starts in June to September when people book their trips and indeed we had been fully booked.”
He goes on to say that in the 2018/2019 season, the country had seen at least 1.5million visitors to Uganda. They expected the number to rise further as more adventurers learned of Uganda’s attractions.
Instead, because of COVID-19, 25% of the tourists who had anticipated visits to Uganda have cancelled their trips and requested refunds. This has left many tour companies in financial trouble.
Kawere says, “Usually when clients book, its a whole chain of procedure to prepare for them starting from paying other players who provide services so we are now talking to them to think of reconsider.”
As badly hit as the tourism sector, is the hospitality industry which Kawere says has been forced to lay off 90% of its workforce.
He gives an example, “We have already seen Ruparelia Group announcing layoff of 3000 workers with 1000 already gone. There is another hotel which has laid off 350 workers and other who haven’t opened up to us yet are doing the same.”
Kawere urges the government to prepare to invest heavily in tourism if the sector is to get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control and defeated. He says for now many people are out of work.