Minister makes case for tourism industry as World Cup beckons

Tuesday February 9 2010

By Martin Luther Oketch

Uganda is endowed with a lot of natural resources that can be developed to boost tourism. Unfortunately, the industry has only managed to survive on the back of private sector efforts, reports Martin Luther Oketch.

Uganda’s tourism sector will continue to lag behind its regional peers as long as funding hiccups in the industry are not addressed, a senior minister has said. According to the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Mr Serapio Rukundo, the industry needs at least a Shs30 billion budget for the next consecutive three financial years to boost its competitive edge. The industry’s human resources, marketing of its attractions to international destinations are just some of the areas that are in dire need for funding.

Speaking to a group of international journalists who specialise in promoting tourism in emerging and developing countries especially in Europe, in Kampala recently, Mr Serapio Rukundo said the government has concentrated more on increasing the budget for defence and security, roads, energy, education and health sectors. He said although the above are vital for improving tourism activities, more efforts are need to boost the sector.

“In the past years, the above sectors have received increased budget and we are grateful for such because the necessary infrastructures are now in place, however, we would like government to begin putting more emphasis on tourism in the next two to three years by increasing the budget for the sector at least by Shs30 billion per annum because tourism is a potential source of foreign exchange to the country,” he said on February 1. “We need massive marketing for our tourist attractions. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa are massively marketing their tourism industry and they are getting more tourists than we do,” he added.

The Managing Director of Afri Tours and Travel Ltd, Mr M.P Malik, said tourism creates opportunities for the establishment of new products, facilities and services and expansion of existing businesses which would not otherwise be justified solely on the resident population.

Uganda is endowed with a lot of natural resources that can be developed into tourist attractions. Unfortunately, the industry has only managed to survive on the back of private sector efforts. Mr Rukundo said despite the enormous endowment, Uganda has performed poorly in marketing itself to other countries as destination of tourist preference.

With the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Uganda should position itself to take advantage of the trade and tourism opportunities.
The Uganda Travel Bureau has, for example, jumped on the World Cup fever by orgnising traveling packages to South Africa for the tournament.

Packages are based on three nights’ accommodation, return air ticket, match tickets, and 24 hour call center assistance in Capetown, Johannesburg, Durban and Polokwane. The price for the packages range from $3,750 to $11,208 depending on what package category one chooses.

The development is an opportunity for Uganda to showcase its capacity to provide world standard services to the rest of the world. In the process Ugandan companies offering such services to the 2010 World Cup could succeed to attract visitors to Uganda.

UTB 2010 World Cup
Package price includes:
u Shared or single occupancy accommodation in a two, three or four star Hotel.
u Return Air ticket inclusive of taxes
u Match ticket
u 24 hour Call Centre assistance
u Meet & greet at the Airport
u Return Airport & Match transfers on seat in coach basis.
The World Tourism Council estimates that travel and tourism provides employment for nearly 220 million people worldwide (that’s one in thirteen workers) and is responsible for over nine per cent of worldwide capital investment.

A tourist dollar is a new dollar injected into the local economy. A percentage of this new dollar is spent in the community by the recipient and this dollar is spent and re-spent creating a multiplier effect. The more new tourist dollars entering a local economy and the longer the percentage is retained locally, the greater the economic benefit.

Mr Rukundo said that although Uganda’s tourism is still undeveloped, Uganda leads in ecotourism in the region, but still needs to promote the whole industry abroad.