Why raising Shs19tn in four years from tourism is too lofty a target

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Why raising Shs19tn in four years from tourism is too lofty a target

Tourism sector players have called on the government to collaborate with the private sector to market Destination Uganda and achieve the set $5 billion (about Shs19 trillion) target within the next four years.

They say combining the efforts and resources of both public and private entities can greatly boost Uganda's visibility and attractiveness as a travel destination.

Tourism is Uganda's largest source of foreign exchange earnings and the second most significant contributor to the national

development strategy.

However, in face of Covid 19, the sector was crippled seeing a reduction in the number of tourist receipts due to a halt on movements.

Although the tourism sector has recently recorded 83 percent recovery from the pandemic slump with $1 billion in revenue generated in 2023, the sector is billions of shillings shy of its former glory.

According to the tourist trends and statistics report of 2024, before Covid-19 in 2019, international tourist arrivals stood at 1.54 million, even after full recovery in 2021.

Two years later in 2023 arrivals stood at 1.27 million registering a 0.3 million deficit.

On May 22, the Ministry of Tourism revealed an ambitious target to generate $5 billion from tourism within the next four years.

"The government has a plan to boost Uganda's tourism sector and among the strategies is the development of tourism sites and leveraging on technology to scale up marketing efforts but to achieve all that there has to be collective efforts of stakeholders to improve the sector and create a thriving sector that benefits our communities," Tom Butime, the minister of tourism, noted.

Tourism relies heavily on word of mouth, with Uganda's wanting marketing strategy.

"The products like the Source of the Nile, we need to make sure the source of the Nile is developed very well," Ron Kawamara, the vice chairman of Uganda Tourism Board, said.

"We need to make sure that Bwindi , the gorillas, we need to develop our infrastructure around need to be done and done well."

Kawamara added that there is need to promote and market Uganda in markets that are critical for Uganda like Europe and North America.

"We need to make sure we have the right content that we use use to advert in those countries, we need to make sure that our entrepreneurs in the industry of tourism have access to this content," he added.

Rerbert Byaruhanga, the president of Uganda Tourism Association, says if government doesn't involve the private sector in marketing destination uganda at an international level, earning $5 billion will remain a dream.

"The government has to look for different approaches and get more private players into the selling of this country because we have to be in these tourism travel expos, road shows conferences out there," Byaruhanga said.

"The government should have an interest in helping the private sector acquire quality vehicles on soft loans."

Byaruhanga said improving infrastructure like the airport, tourist vehicles, national park facilities and hotel standards among others will rapidly propel Uganda to a desired target.

Byaruhanga reiterates the need for government communicators to harmony information especially during unprecedented and catastrophic times to protect the image of Uganda.

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