TOURISM TOPS UGANDA’S FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNINGS

KAMPALA, Sept 27 Uganda’s tourism has overtaken foreign remittances as the top foreign exchange earner, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

The tourism sector also contributed 7.9% to Uganda’s GDP in 2013 amounting to about sh5.5 trillion with as little investment as sh800m last year.

Andrew Seguya, UWA’s executive director, said the sector has contributed employment to more than 500,000 people.

“The return on investment is high and it shows that tourism could create more revenue with more investment.”

He was speaking to the New Vision at the launch of the tourism master plan 2014-2024, which is a collection of strategies and plans geared towards transforming the tourism sector.

The tourism master plan, among other products, is seeking to harness cultural tourism, religious tourism and adventure tourism. In addition, the plan also highlights the need to communicate the products being developed to intending tourists and construction of better infrastructure.

Others are skilling Ugandan hoteliers, guides and protecting Uganda’s image locally and globally will contribute to growth of the tourism sector.

“We have to create an impression that Uganda is worth visiting,” said Seguya, adding that Uganda’s neighbours are investing a lot more in marketing.

Dr. Maria Mutagamba, the minister of tourism said the plan is now in place to harness tourism and contribute to the transformation of the economy – this is time for Government, donors and private sector to invest more in the sector.

Onesmus Muhwezi, who represented the country representative of UNDP, pointed out that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy globally.

He also pointed out that Uganda’s tourism is promising to provide opportunities for the employment, growth in the agriculture sector, transport and contribute to poverty alleviation.

The foreign remittances from Uganda’s migrant workers abroad had in the recent years overtaken fish and coffee as the top foreign exchange earner. Currently, foreign exchange earnings have been relegated to number two behind tourism.

Grace Awulo Mbabazi, a director at the ministry of tourism said the leisure and holiday makers, who were among the highest spenders had increased from 9% to 16% within last year.

She said Uganda was facing challenges coming from negative advisories, and later adding that the master plan also targets to increase domestic and regional tourism to raise revenue.

SOURCE: NEW VISION

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