Legislators want govt to give tourism sector Shs 4bln for image promotion

KAMPALA, April 12, 2024 – Uganda’s tourism sector is one of the significant sectors with the potential to generate more revenue if adequately funded and marketed, Members of Parliament have re-echoed.

The MPs were responding to the Ministerial Policy Statement of the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry that was adopted during plenary yesterday.

Presenting the report, the committee’s deputy chairperson, Catherine Lamwaka, said that whilst the Uganda Tourism Board requires Shs 4 billion to promote the country’s image, it has not been prioritised in the 2024/2025 financial year budget.

“The committee observed that the National Development Plan III targeted to cumulatively attract 281,760 international tourist arrivals from U.S, Europe and China but only 67,252 arrivals were registered by the end of the first half of Financial Year 2023/24,” read the report in part.

Lamwaka said that the committee was informed that U.S, Europe and China were key target sources for leisure tourists as they stay longer than business tourists.

The committee recommends that government should provide Shs 4 billion to the Uganda Tourism Board to engage international and national media houses in production of positive media stories for improved destination image.

Sheema Municipality MP, Dickson Kateshumbwa challenged the tourism ministry to develop a comprehensive strategy to place Uganda’s tourism activities at a vantage point.

“We need to be serious with tourism because tourism can contribute more than 20 percent to our Gross Domestic Product,” said Kateshumbwa.

He also cautioned Ministries, Departments and Agencies against communicating negatively about the country, saying that this defeats the intention of marketing the country.

Jonathan Odur , the Erute County South asked government to develop standard guidelines in communicating some of the sensitive information about the country, saying that government officials have severally disseminated information that has left potential tourists alarmed.

“Our image as a country is at stake because we have saboteurs who do not reflect on what they say,” Odur said.

Susan Amero, Amuria District Woman MP and Rose Obigah, Terego District Woman MP both decried the poor road network in national parks and game reserves, saying that the impassable roads have also deterred majority of tourists from visiting national parks.

“The quality of our national parks is and vehicles are substandard. We need to standardise these vehicles because tourism has a lot to do with comfort,” said Obigah.

Martin Bahinduka, Minister of State, Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said that unless the budget of marketing Uganda’s tourism sector is increased, the country will continue to face challenges with attracting tourists.

“The potential of the sector is enormous but the Shs 10 billion budget for marketing Uganda is low – you will not do much with it,” he said.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa who concurred with the need to prioritise the tourism sector, also said that to ensure efficiency of the committee, a consideration will be made to split the current committee into two; Tourism and Trade.

“I think we shall need to look at this in future. Let us discuss with the Speaker and the business committee and see whether this committee should still be under Trade and Industry. Tourism has the potential in this country, it is more sustainable. Small countries are attracting millions of tourists,” Tayebwa said.

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