Monday August 25 2014

Uncoordinated data hampering tourism growth, says minister

Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba. File photo

Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba. File photo  

By Abdulaziizi K. Tumusiime

The absence of standard information about the tourism industry in Uganda is frustrating progress, the Minister for Tourism has said.
Ms Maria Mutagamba stated last week in Kampala, that the different stakeholders in the industry publish contradicting information about the status of the sector consequently hampering efforts for effective planning.

Uganda Tourism Association role
“Not everyone should publish data about the number of tourists coming into the country or the amount earned annually. We will end up with lies,” she said.

“There is need for the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) to come up with a research desk which should be the sole source of information about state of the country’s tourism industry,” she added.

Ms Mutagamba made the remarks at the launch of the UTA Strategic Plan 2014 – 2019 where she was the guest of honour. Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project seeks to mobilise the tourism business associations into a single unit that collectively voices the interests of the private sector. The plan analyses the state of the country’s tourism industry, devises means to circumvent the challenges, and touches on the mechanisms of ensuring its implementation.

Mr Herbert Byaruhanga, the UTA president said the absence of a strategic plan, in the last 10 years, was a stumbling block in the urge to focus on the issues affecting the industry.

While commending UTA on the project, UNDP Resident Representative Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie said if properly structured, tourism is a source of opportunities for economic growth, human development and community transformation.
“According to research by the World Tourism Organisation, for every dollar spent by a tourist, four jobs are created in Uganda. Tourism has emerged as one of Uganda’s biggest exports bringing in nearly $1 billion (Shs2 trillion in 2013) in annual revenue,” she said.

Ms Mutagamba said the Strategic Plan is a right step towards the realisation of the National Vision 2040.

The vision points to tourism as one of the fundamental sectors that will steer Uganda towards socio-economic transformation by the year 2040.

contribution to GDP
Tourism in Uganda is focused on the landscape and wildlife. It is a major driver of employment, investment and foreign exchange.
According to statistics, the industry contributed $979 million (about Shs2.5 trillion) to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year.