Following a period of complacency, the government economic analysts and technocrats have eventually realized that the economy of Uganda need a faster drive despite the long held notion that it is resilient.
At the 6th annual high level policy dialogue about the National Budget that was arranged in Kampala by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) on Tuesday 26th April 2016, Keith Muhakanizi – the Secretary to the Treasury and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance noted that the country requires a bullet that would twist the economy and to him this bullet is none other than tourism.
The official made the remark during his presentation and argues that for long the Uganda Safaris and tours along with other forms of tourism have been at the peripheral of the essential drives to economic growth and development.
The issue of increasing import bill is a serious one and the country ought to consider all the possible efforts to neutralize it. The gap has been further widened by the political unrest in the neighboring South Sudan that made the export of agricultural produce difficult. This puts tourism at the forefront of providing the solution. The foreign exchange brought in by travelers on gorilla safaris in Uganda through purchase of gorilla permits, those on Uganda tours to wildlife parks as entrance fees among other forms if capitalized and increased can help to narrow the import export gap.
The recently approved budget estimates allocated the tourism industry an amount of Shs 81b rising from the last year’s allocation of Shs63b culminating into 21% increment. From this budget allocation, the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife will receive sum of Shs19.4billion rising from the last year’s allocation of Shs11.8billion while the Uganda Tourism Board allocation increased to Shs11.4billion from Shs6.4billion which is really a positive move to enhancing marketing of Uganda safari tour products both locally and internationally.
The tourism industry apparently gives jobs to over one million people direct and indirect in range of fields like accommodation units like service jobs, housekeeping, managerial among others, entertainment, transport like tourist driving and food industry. Uganda is noted to have received 1.3million people in the year 2014 which is far above the 600,000 people that were received in the year 2006. These tourist arrivals have spurred the national earnings to $1.4 billion from $1.2 billion earned in the year 2006 and the sector injected $6.3 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product in the financial year 2014/15.