Monday, 27 June 2016 08:32

More funding to help Uganda tourism

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The Ugandan government has allocated $57 million to tourism as part of efforts to help the sector register growth.

Ugandan Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, said in the financial year 2016/2017, the funding to tourism had been increased to $57 million from $48 million in the previous financial year to help the industry rebound.

The substantial funding is a major boost and comes at a time when the Government is implementing the 2015-2019 Tourism Development Plan.

According to Kasaija, foreign tourists to Uganda declined by 13% in 2015 compared with the previous year, despite visitors to the parks having increased to 216 000 in 2015, up from 203 000 in 2014.

He explained that the industry was facing challenges such as weak targeted destination marketing, poor air transport and inadequate hospitality industry skills. Regional challenges, such as security threats and disease outbreaks had led to negative media reports and adverse travel advisories, he said, and consequently visitor numbers from key tourist source markets had dropped.

Kasaija, who delivered his budget speech in the Ugandan Parliament earlier this month, pointed out that tourism added $2.5 billion to the country’s GDP and contributed around $1.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings annually. This, he added, translated to 9% of national output and 26% of export earnings.

To help the industry recover, Kasaija said the Ugandan government would continue to implement the 2015-2019 Tourism Development Plan. He said the plan aimed to cover areas such as diversifying tourism products, aggressive promotion, nature conservation, skills development, infrastructure development and regulation of the sector. Key interventions in the next financial year, he said, included Uganda participating in international travel fairs and the implementation of the East African single tourist visa.

Heritage sites, including the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, would be upgraded, while tourist circuits would also be developed.

In the Tourism Development Plan, the Ugandan government aims to offer skills to tour operators, hoteliers and workers in the sector for them to deliver world-class service to tourists. Kasaija said the government would grade an additional 200 hotels and restaurants and enhance inspection of tourist facilities across the country to improve standards.

He gave the assurance that the government would improve roads to enable tourists travel to attractions in comfort, so that the country could attract more visitors.

Source: Tourism Update

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