Tourism sector players have welcomed plans for the operation of a tourism development levy to close a funding gap in the sector. The sector will also remit Pay-As-You-Earn taxes to the Government.
Tourism is Uganda’s top foreign exchange earner, bringing in $800m (about sh2trillion) annually ahead of coffee at $500m (about sh1.3trillion). Despite this, the Uganda tours have been constrained by low budgetary allocations.
Uganda Safaris Guides Association officer (USAGA), Herbert Byaruhanga said the association will collect and remit Pay-As-You-Earn taxes to the Government in the next financial year. More so, a tourism development levy on sector players will raise $9m (about sh23b) to market Uganda tours internationally and improve strategic infrastructure.
Herbert Byaruhanga recommended that the Uganda Safaris Guide Association will start to remit taxes to the Government at the beginning of this financial year to support its efforts to finance the tourism sector at the Uganda Museum recently. He added that if the tourism sector doesn’t contribute to the treasury, then the government will not be in position to support its activities annually.
Uganda spends about $25,580 on marketing tour journeys in Uganda, compared to $23m by Kenya, $10m by Tanzania and $5m by Rwanda annually. According to a strategic sector development plan, Uganda Tourism Board is faced with a sh17b funding short fall which limits the efficient operation of safaris in Uganda.
According to the national budget framework2013/14, 40km of tourism roads will be rehabilitated and 10b will be set aside to rehabilitate the kasese Aerodrome to international airport standards hence increasing tour visits to Uganda.
According to the statistics, tourist arrivals increased 17% to 945,899 in 2010 from 806,658 in 2009. There was a 25% increase in the number of Visitors to national parks, from 151,818 in 2009 to 190,112 in 2010. Close to 209,000 visitors visited Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), of which 95% were Ugandans.
According to the national budget frame work 2013/14, the tourism sector expenditure in Uganda increased from $ 564m in $662m in 2010, reflecting a 14% increase implying that tour adventures to Uganda have contributed to the tourism sector globally.
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