Safaris in Uganda will improve since the tourism minister Maria Mutagamba has urged the new Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to find alternative funding methods to promote Uganda as an attractive tourism destination.
Mutagamba noted that the new board comes at a time when government funding to the sector is low. “UTB is inadequately funded. The budget for 2012/13 was reduced from sh2.0b to sh1.4b. Comparing the strategic plan funding requirement for 2012/13 of sh19.2b, the board has a funding gap of sh17b this year,” she observed. She noted that these low fundings will affect negatively the tourism sector since the number of tourists who come for tour adventures will be reduced due to the low development.
The minister advised the board to consider exploring the implemention of the tourism development levy provided for under the Uganda Tourism Act 2008.
“The delay in the operationalization of the tourism development levy has made it difficult for the sector to raise alternative funding. Preliminary estimates show that $9m (about sh23b) could be raised annually from the levy,” Mutagamba noted.
James Tumusiime, the new board chairman, said his team will do everything in its power to see that the mission of the board is achieved.
He said tourism earns $800m (about sh2trilion) annually compared to $500m (about sh1.3trillion) from coffee despite the low level of funding to the sector.
Tumusiime also pledged to strengthen the human resource capacity of the board, strengthen linkages between UTB and its strategic partners and lobby the Government for increased funding.
Other board members are Tom Wasswa, representing Civil Aviation Authority, Edith Kasajja, representing National Planning Authority, Lilly Ajarova, the executive director Chimpanzee Wildlife Conservation Trust at Ngamba Island and Ismail Sekandi, represents hoteliers.
Others are Amos Wekesa, representing tour operators, Roger Wamara, a sales manager Qatar Airways, Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive director Uganda Wildlife Authority, Michael Aliyo, from board of trustees of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Vivian Lyazi, representing the tourism ministry and Cuthbert Baguma, the UTB executive director and secretary to the board.
Baguma said the board will focus on promoting tourism products and the development of a sustainable and competitive tourism sector.
The term of office of the outgoing board, headed by William Byaruhanga, expired in December 2012. The new board will serve for three years.