The Uganda Tourism Sector Performance report launched under the theme unlocking the tourism potential as an engine for attaining middle income status left members of the tourism fraternity in an enchanting mood. The launch which was presided over by Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda along with Professor Ephraim Kamuntu the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities occurred at Hotel African – one of the accommodation units for Uganda Safari tour undertakers towards the end of the previous week.
The report featured accomplishments in the Uganda’s tourism sector that breathed new hope in the country’s cash flow. The report revealed that the budget to the Ministry of Tourism had a spontaneous increase from 13.9 billion in 2012/13 and 31.5 billion in 2013/14 to 99.6 billion in 2015/16 which became the largest budget proportion that the sector has ever received though it included a one-off fund to rehabilitate the Uganda tour site of Namugongo Martyrs Shrine ahead of Pope’s visit in Nov 2015. It is believed that from such budget, the Uganda Tourism Board has furthered the cause for promotion of faith based tourism including its registration to participate in the forth coming AKWAABA African Travel Market 2016 in Nigeria that will run from October 30th – Nov 1st 2016.
The report indicated that a count of 1.7 million tourists made it to destination Uganda in the year 2015 and though there was a 5.6% (220,000 to 208,000) decline in recreation, leisure and holiday travel, the travelers interested in visiting Relatives and Friends increased by 2.8%. The increment on the later side covered the gap of those interested in Safaris in Uganda Africa.
More interesting to note is that the Tourism sector emerged the top foreign exchange earner with US$1.35 billion accounting for 23% of the total exports and the sector was followed by the remittances from abroad that fetched US$1.1 billion while Coffee came in the third position with US$400 million.
The hotel occupancy rate stood at 47.6% and 46.2% for the bed and the room respectively and the peak months were July through to September. The highest Occupancy was registered in the western region taking 53.5%.
The business of Tour operators registered 23% growth with the foreign Uganda Safari holiday undertakers constituting 98.87% while the remaining percentage was for domestic tourists.
The performance of government agencies including Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI), Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and Uganda Wildlife Research and Training Institute (UWRTI) was also reviewed in the report. UTB is noted to have registered progress in promoting the Pearl of Africa brand including hiring three PR firms to market Uganda abroad, joint East African marketing, single East African visa and support for clusters among others while HTTI continue to struggle with financial constraints that curtail its mandate and UWA struggling with invasive species in the National Parks.