News from the tourism sector indicates some exciting prospects. Last week, it was revealed that Uganda registered a 10 per cent increase in the number of tourists visiting the country’s national parks and gazetted wildlife conservation centres in the 2018/2019 financial year.
The Ugandan Wildlife Authority (UWA) sector performance report indicates that 344,000 tourists visited the parks in the 2018/2019 financial year compared to 303,000 tourists during the 2017/2018 financial year.
This and other reports on the performance of different sectors of Uganda’s tourism industry offer key indicators for further growth of an industry that has been growing at an impressive rate. Available data indicates that in 2018, the sector posted $1.63b (Shs6.1 trillion), up from $1.4b (Shs5.2 trillion) in 2017.
This is a result of the increased tourist numbers in the country. Data from the Uganda Tourism Board shows that in the 2016/2017 financial year, for instance, Uganda recorded 1.5 per cent growth in international tourist arrivals.
The growth of the tourism sector is a result of various factors, including media and online marketing and deliberate campaigns. To further maximise this effort, it is important to recognise that there are still huge gaps that, if addressed, will give this the sector a big leap.
It is also crucial to study the sector and review performance. The UWA report indicates details on tourist preferences, with Murchison Falls National Park recording the highest number of tourists at 104,000 followed by Queen Elizabeth National Park with 84,000.
A survey on why visitors choose specific destinations would offer interesting insights. Beyond the obvious attractions, is it the accommodation facilities, the customer service at the facilities? How easy is it to access these facilities by road?
This country’s tourism potential is vast and every region has unique features that, if promoted well, can attract visitors and boost local economies. Busoga has been doing this through an annual event – the Kagulu Hill Climbing challenge which aims to promote community tourism.
However, to successfully build a thriving tourism sector across the country, and promote local attractions, we must have a decent transport network and accommodation facilities to attract both local and international tourists to the numerous tourist sites across Uganda.