76% of Uganda’s tourists come from East Africa  

Tourism remains one of Uganda’s largest foreign exchange earners. Photo / Edgar R Batte 

What you need to know:

  • Kenya and Rwanda are the largest source markets for Uganda’s tourism, according to Tourism Ministry

A Ministry of Tourism report for the 2022/23 financial year has indicated that in the last four almost half of tourists to Uganda are from Kenya.  

The Tourism Development Programme Annual Performance Report, which highlights performance of the tourism sector since 2018, indicates that out of the 814,508 tourists that entered Uganda during 2022 at least 376,302 were from Kenya, representing 46.2 percent of the total arrivals registered in the period. 

East Africa remains an important source market for Uganda’s tourism sector, contributing at least 76.3 percent of the country’s arrival. 

However, the report does not indicate how much Uganda earned from the region in the period under review. 

The report further indicates that Rwanda followed Kenya as the most important source of tourists, contributing 19.5 percent of total arrivals. 

South Sudan, Tanzania, and Eritrea, which contributed 7.3 percent, 3.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, closed off Uganda’s top five tourist sources. 

“During the year 2022, Uganda’s primary sources of visitors were its neighbours, constituting the leading [source] markets,” the report reads in part. 

However, the report noted that the 814,508 visitors were far fewer than the 1.54m registered in 2019 – pre-Covid-19 - even as it was double the 473,085 registered at the height of Covid-19 in 2020. 

Other source markets included India with a 3.2 percent contribution, followed by Burundi with 2.5 percent.  

US, DR Congo and UK contributed 1.6 percent, 1.4 percent and 1 percent, respectively. 

Others sources include China (0.7 percent), Ethiopia and South Africa (each with 0.5 percent) and Nigeria (0.4 percent).

Reason for visiting 

Majority of visitors, which represents 38 percent, the report noted, come to Uganda to reconnect with friends and relatives, while 16 percent come for business. One in 10 visitors said they come for leisure or holiday.

Speaking during the first Annual Tourism Review conference, Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire, said given that the tourism sector is fragile, stakeholders across the value chain must see to it that they promote Uganda as a safe tourist hub. 

“We have a problem of indiscipline. We are working very hard with the Ministry of Works and Police to discipline Uganda’s traffic and law enforcement regime, which is also a hindrance to the flow of tourism,” he said, noting that the Ministry of Tourism must ensure standards of private investors in the hotel sector, where a number of players are offering services that are below their grading. 

During the period, the four main products for in inbound tourism expenditure were accommodation, food and beverages, passenger transport and retail trade, holding a combined share of 68.8 percent of total expenditure.