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Uganda targets 1.7m tourists

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KAMPALA, UGANDA – 2012- The tourism industry that recorded an increase in tourists in flow from 806,658 in 2009 to 946,000 in 2010 has set yet another target of ensuring the Uganda receives over 1,7500,000 million tourists by 2014.

Mr. Justus Tindigarukayo, the director tourism, wildlife, museums and monuments in Uganda’s tourism ministry told stakeholders in Kampala mid last week that this will likely see an annual growth rate of at least 16.6% per annum.

The ministry also aims at increasing the contribution of tourism to the Gross Domestic Product from Ush1.7trillion (about $680m) to Ush2.6trillion ($1.04b) in 2014 representing an average growth rate of 20.4% per annum.

It is also looking at increasing tourism employment both formal and informal from 630,830 in 2010 to 1,088,055 persons in 2014 representing an average annual growth rate of 14.6% per annum.

“All this can be realized if adequate funds are provided to market Uganda’s products, change the mindset of the people to tourism and conservation and putting in place favorable and enabling policies, laws and plans for effective development of the sector,” indicated Tindigarukayo.

Commenting on the above targets, Mr. Boniface Byamukama, the president of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) questioned whether the government is fully committed to them with the marketing budget at about $330,000 and failures in the sector like the grading and classification of hotels, mitigating conflicts between human and wildlife surrounding national parks and improving the tourism infrastructure like roads.

“These are the good conference presentations that are made but the implementation has been a challenge,” he said.

Another stakeholder Mr. Geoffrey Baluku also wondered how the targets will be met with Uganda lacking a national carrier (airline) and coordinated efforts to market the industry.

Uganda in 2010 registered 942,000 tourists, which showed a 17% increase over 2009. Visitations to the national parks increased by 20% from 160,000 to 200,000. The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre received over 250,000 visitors in the year while visits to Uganda Museums grew by 37.8%.

The year 2010 also saw Mgahinga National Park in Western Uganda voted the greatest wildlife encounter in the world by Lonely Planet Magazine, the friend a gorilla campaign received an award for best interactive and innovative marketing website in the world and the population of wildlife in protected areas increasing, with those in Virunga increasing by 2%.

According to Tindigarukayo, the revenue generated from wildlife protected areas rose by 29% from Ush17b in 2009 to Ush22b while the cumulative revenue sharing funds accruing to local communities from wildlife protected areas reached Ush3.3b. The cumulative sport hunting revenue from Lake Mburo pilot Project grew to Ush1.3b. The annual revenue from wildlife use rights program rose from Ush83b in 2009 to Ush207b in 2010 representing an annual growth of 147%.

Uganda’s Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage minister Ephraim Kamuntu pledged government commitment to continue to provide the enabling environment through provision of the necessary infrastructure like air transport, roads, railways, energy and security.

Tourism is an important alternative for export. The travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest, offering employment opportunities that range from minimum wage jobs to highly paid professional positions.
The sector has emerged as the largest service industry globally in terms of gross revenue as well as foreign exchange earnings.

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