Government will in the next four years seek to grow tourism earnings from $1.6b to $3b, according to Tourism Minister Tom Butime.
This, Mr Butime said, will be achieved through five key strategic investments that will mainly focus on reinforcement Brand Uganda as a top priority.
Mr Butime, who was speaking during the unveiling of Mr Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei as the new destination Uganda brand ambassador, said in the next five years, government will invest in some tourism related activities including developing the Source of the Nile and Kagulu Hills in Busoga, Mt Rwenzori Tourism Infrastructure Development Project and Mt Elgon Tourism infrastructure Development Project
Other activities, he said, will include relocating and upgrading the airstrip at the periphery of Kidepo Valley National Park, rehabilitating marine routes, developing roads to cultural heritage sites and upgrading of 370 kilometres of tourism roads across the country.
“According to the National Development Plan III, it is anticipated that by 2025, tourist arrivals from key source markets will grow from 210,000 to 500,000, a core element in increasing our annual tourism revenues from $1.6b to $3b,” he said, noting this will increase the contribution of tourism to employment from 6.3 per cent to 10 per cent, which is equivalent to 433,000 new jobs or an increase from the current 667,600 to 1.1m jobs.
Tourism, even amid Covid-19-related challenges continues to be a key foreign exchange earner contributing at least 7.7 per cent of gross domestic product, which by 2025, government hopes would have increased to 9 per cent.
Ms Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board chief executive officer, said whereas Covid-19 had presented a number of challenges, the tourism sector had in the last half of 2020 experienced a significant growth in domestic tourism with some hotels, especially in the countryside receiving above-industry occupancy levels.
“To us, that has been a great learning curve and justification for our renewed strategy that seeks to balance the attention between overseas visitors with domestic, regional and intra-African travellers on the other hand,” she said.
Ms Ajarova also noted that Covid-19 had presented the tourism sector and government in particular to “rethink our approaches to marketing Uganda” pledging to unveil a number of initiatives, including a renewed Destination Uganda brand.