Tourism arrivals remained stable in June - UTB

Friday July 23 2021
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Tourists visit Queen Elizabeth National Park. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

By Paul Murungi

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has said international arrivals were relatively stable during May and June, demonstrating resilience amid a lock down that started on June 19. 

In mid June government announced a 42-day lock down, closing a number of sectors. 

However, tourism was allowed to operate with players in the value chain, including hotels, airlines and transporters, among others, given an option to operate under strict adherence to standard operating procedures. 

In a statement released during the Rwenzori mountain climbing excursion, Ms Lilly Ajarova, the UTB chief executive officer, said that despite restrictions on movement within the country, international tourism numbers had remained stable only experiencing a slight decline, according to data from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority. 

“Although the country entered a second, this time partial 42-day lock down starting on June 19,  there are indications that foreign tourist arrivals are holding steady,” she said, noting that international arrivals between May and June, according to UCCA data, reduced by just 16.6 per cent to 29,209 passengers from 35,012 passengers in May 2021. 

International arrivals have been growing since Uganda lifted the first lock down in June last year, increasing by 18.4 per cent from 83,957 travellers in the first quarter of 2021 to 99,384 during the second quarter. 

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The growth has been sustained through a number of campaigns that have since last year sought to help tourism recover from near zero growth. 

The campaigns, among others target recovery through riding on local tourism as well as using celebrity visitors to attract international arrivals. 

Last week, UTB hosted two mountaineers among them Mr Julian Wright, largely based in Kenya and South Africa and Mr John Hunwick, the founder of Rwenzori Trekking Services, in a trekking exercise on the Rwenzori Mountain Ranges. 

Mr Hunwick said that whereas Covid-19 has hit tourism hard, it has offered the sector an opportunity to rethink operations boosted through training to create new packages and explore other neglected options.

“There are a lot of people who want to get out into nature. They want to experience nature, and particularly with this Covid-19, people have become much more aware of being in nature. I believe there is a huge potential for a lot of outdoors activities,” he said. 

Supporting recovery    
Early this month, UTB, Rwenzori Trekking Services facilitied Christian and Dagmara Kuhne the Italian mountaineering couple to climb Mt Rwenzori. This is part of the larger plan to support recovery of tourism 

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