Embrace tourism as a cash cow for economy

What you need to know:

  • Tourism can lead to economic development through direct and indirect effects. Direct effects include revenue generation and foreign exchange in a tourist-dependent country.

Uganda hosted the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2023 from April 26 to 29, in Kampala, which was both a domestic and international expo to promote  Uganda as top tourism destination globally in 2023.

The expo organised under the theme of “Explore Uganda-The Pearl of Africa” is a tremendous step taken by Uganda Tourism Board towards selling Uganda and indeed a predestined jackpot to the tourism sector but still much efforts need to be drawn to the sector to supplement the existing marketing strategies.

We must be fully aware that tourism is our bread and butter and should be elevated with the utmost attention, Mother Nature has been so generous to us, I can’t imagine how we would be rated without tourism, what a priceless gift we earned from the Almighty

Tourism can lead to economic development through direct and indirect effects. Direct effects include revenue generation and foreign exchange in a tourist-dependent country.

These effects also include creation of business opportunities that thrive on money earned from tourism or local sourcing of supplies .

Uganda’s tourism assets include the national parks, the wildlife (a unique mixture of plains game and mountain gorillas), and landscapes for hiking, as well as water and adventure activities.

Additional attractions include village visits, cultural assets, religious gatherings and conference facilities.

Notably, we are extremely blessed to have natural tourism assets of which other countries are endeavouring to form artificial tourism sites. This calls for utmost utilisation of tourism potential of natural resources that we possess as a country.

Wonders of the tourism sector keep Uganda shining and attracting more investors, let’s concentrate on boosting tourism to keep Uganda uplifted

Tourism in Uganda is an increasingly important contributor to the economy where by 1.5 million international arrivals, combined with a growing number of domestic tourists, generated 7.75 percent of GDP and 6.7 percent of total national employment in 2018 (CBI, 2020).Athough environmental degradation has continued to be a menace to the tourism industry in Uganda, in 2022, Uganda registered 814,508 arrivals who generated Shs2.7 trillion. This was 12.2 percent of all the total exports in 2022.

Despite its significance to the economy, tourism sector in budget for FY2023/2024 was apportioned Shs89.296 billion which is way below FY2022/2023 approved budget of Shs194.677 billion that was also deemed insufficient and yet the government expects to accelerate economic growth to above six percent per year, I would term this as inflicted negative economic shock. Always bear in mind “you reap what you sow” tourism should at all times be prioritised because it is a key indicator for sustainable development.

In regards to promotion of tourism, it seems we are sleeping on the  job as a developing country. We have the potential to more than double what we are currently reaping out of tourism sector, why not cast our nets strategically.

Tourism is indeed a gold mine that needs to be promoted and embraced given the natural beauty Uganda posses, it’s essential to invest more in the tourism sector for a firm foundation of our transition from low income   to a middle income economy given that it contributes to developing infrastructure, promoting peace and stability, employment creation, source of foreign exchange earnings, preservation of national heritage and environment, among others

Tourism is among the cash cows that we have in Uganda and in order to keep the milk flowing we need to be more vigilant about conserving the environment. God the greatest artist made sure he put in place ample fascinating landscapes for our own good, so let’s keep revamping and rejuvenating our tourism centres for sustainable development.

Uganda’s greatest opportunity is to invest in attracting adventure travellers. This market segment is very valuable and adventure travellers are looking for experiences that Uganda can offer, in particular safari, hiking, bird watching and community-based cultural tourism.

Uganda Tourism Board and Ministry of tourism should sustainably manage promotion of tourism by utilising power of technology through use of chat boards to interact with prospects of tourisms sector, creating an increased pool of trained manpower in hospitality and tourism sectors for delivery of quality service to the tourist and establish countries having on-arrival visas for foreign tourists.

Partner with reputable travel bloggers who have a large online audience. The travel, tourism, and experiences industry is an industry that can only flourish if it bands together.

Finally I urge Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to boost the tourism sector through adequate financing to benefit our economy and maximise job creation in the greatest way possible. We need to accelerate our investment towards the tourism sector because Uganda’s economy is reliant on tourism.

Babra Kembabazi,                            [email protected]