Tourism can offset trade deficit

The latest report on tourism performance 2017 shows that tourism grew at 7 per cent representing the highest growth since 2010

Amos Wekesa 

BY Amos Wekesa

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On August 27, the eTurbo News published an article detailing the performance of tourism in 2017 at the global level. Interestingly, similar growth was experienced in Uganda, but was interrupted by the recent political challenges stemming out of the elections that happened in Arua.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is one of the UN agencies directly responsible for tourism and they give the best global data on tourism activities.
There is a lot of learning for anybody that follows the information they publish and I would like to encourage tourism lovers to follow.
The latest report on tourism performance 2017 shows that tourism grew at 7 per cent representing the highest growth since 2010.
Growth in arrivals globally was echoed by a strong increase in exports generated by tourism and was able to record $4 billion per day, making tourism the world’s third largest export sector.
The same report shows that the world experienced 1,323 million International tourist arrivals and with international arrivals, they mean those tourists that cross borders.
Those figures do not include the domestic tourism arrivals which are massive as well. Countries such as China have more than 500 million Chinese travelling within China every year and only about 60 million international arrivals.
International tourist arrivals are meant to be about 10 per cent of general domestic tourism.
Domestic tourists are those people who travel within the boundary of their country and that kind of tourism doesnt generate the highest income per person but it is more reliable in comparison to the international arrivals.
An average Ugandan traveller moving within Uganda for leisure purpose will spend an average of Shs150,000 per day and yet an international tourist will spend an average of $250 (Shs950,000) per day when they are in Uganda.
Ugandans travelling within the country for example will appreciate the country better and in return project the tourism potential better in addition to identifying investment opportunities.
The President of Uganda did visit early this week and I hope tourism was among the key points he shared with Chinese.
China earns about $800 (Shs3m) from Uganda annually through imports outside construction by their companies such as the Karuma dam project.
Uganda could easily be losing almost $1.2 billion annually to China. I have also been informed that the President is concerned about the trade deficit Uganda is experiencing in dealing with China.
The Chinese spent $258 billion on international tourism (money spent by the Chinese while travelling abroad for leisure purposes).
Uganda could attract say one million Chinese tourists annually and if each of them spent $1,500 (Shs5.5m) in our economy through tourism related services, Uganda would earn $1.5 billion and the trade deficit would be no more.
Uganda has its highest potential in tourism because we have unique attributes like weather, fresh waters, primates, culture which the Chinese love, food, national parks, mountains, etc.
The Chinese tourism is mainly controlled by government and therefore, our President would make a clear case for Uganda during the visit and sign a memorandum of understanding with his counterpart.
The MoU should be followed by appointing a public relations representative who will make sure Uganda’s image is constantly well represented.
The next piece I write about tourism is going to focus on Uganda experiencing probably the highest growth this year in tourism since 1971 and I will give some figures and facts especially about the last six months.
We have been interrupted by the recent political challenges.

The writer is an investment expert
— amos@greatlakessafaris.com

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