THE TOURIST ARRIVALS IN UGANDA AT STAKE – UGANDA SAFARI NEWS
The private sector in Uganda issued a press statement notifying the government of the dangers of some of the policies that have been imposed in the tourism industry and other aspects that require redress. The President of the U SAGA Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga noted that Uganda safari undertakers and earnings that are generated from the travelers that undertake safaris in Uganda have plummeted by over 70% comparing to figures of 2014. The release also notes that the travelers accounting to 90% of the booking from Europe and United States have cancelled their trips. About 2,000 workers have lost their jobs in the tourism industry, over 15 tour operators have shut down and over 90% of the safari guides are redundant.
The Uganda Tourism Association listed a number of factors that have fueled this occurrence citing issues like the Ebola crisis which prompted the uniformed Americans and Europeans to halt the travel to Africa including safaris to Uganda, foreign currency fluctuations such as depreciation of Euro against the US dollar. In fact it is 20% more expensive for Euro using visitor to come to Uganda and the Europe travel to Uganda is expected to drop this year by 30%, the anti –gay law which most of the tourist think that it is still applying and calls for death and the 18% VAT which has made the already limited accommodation expensive contributing to already perceived image of Uganda as an expensive destination.
A range of examples of hospitality establishments where travelers 0n a safari in Uganda used to sleep now affected by VAT have been listed including the Embassy Hotel in Mbarara which was forced to increase accommodation rates and the occupancy has reduced gradually from December, the profit margins for Ankrah Foundation in Mukono have plummeted to -6% from 12% because most of its clients are donor agencies that are exempted from VAT thus the hotel has to foot the cost by its self, the Gorilla safaris Lodge in Bwindi has seen the occupancy reduce by 50% and many other establishments justifying the effect that the 18% VAT has had on tourism establishments.
The Uganda Tourism Association therefore called for immediate intervention of the government to save jobs, increase Uganda safari travelers and ensure the steady flow of tourism earnings. The 18% VAT on up country accommodation should be suspended until such time when the country is ready for it at about 60% of the occupancy levels. The marketing gap should be bridged to create positive awareness about Uganda in the outside world. The increase of the UTB budget to 6 billion is credited but still far less for the work that is supposed to be done. Thus, an increment is long overdue.
Uganda safaris / Uganda safari News
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