Uganda Travel News

Tourism sector priority in 2015/16 Uganda Budget

Yesterday all East African Countries read out their Budget highlighting what would be priority sectors for investment. One of the sectors which has been for long neglected was at least recognised in this Budget.

The ministry of finance noted that tourism has been highlighted by government as one of the sectir that could avert Uganda from the problem of luck of foreign exchange. Uganda has been facing a problem due to the fact that the dollars has been appreciating at the expense of the Uganda shillings and is looking at all possible ways of averting the situation before it culminates into serious inflation. For most of the past years, tourism has been the highest foreign exchange earner in Uganda but the problem has been that a small budget has always been allocated to it.

According to this years budget, tourism has been allocated thirty billion shillings up from sixteen billion shillings of last year. This money will be directly given to the Ministry of Tourism and Uganda Tourism Board to cater for this year’s tourism investments.

According to the Executive Director Uganda Tourism Board, this is a welcome move since the additional fund will help in product development, promoting of Uganda as a tourism destination both domestically and internationally, training skills so as to match regional and global standards as well as to be able to compete with regional neighbours such as Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

It should be noted that Uganda has been struggling to market herself as a tourism destination due to lack of enough funds coupled by poor leaders at the top but with the appointment of the New CEO of Uganda Tourism Board and the creation of an independent ministry of tourism, the situation is slowly changing for the betterment of the sector. This is indeed good news for the private sector mainly Tour operators and Hoteliers who have been for most of the time sponsoring themselves to attend international expos and exhibitions.

The above not withstanding, the private sector has decried Government insistence on VAT that was introduced to all up country lodges last year. According to a press conference/release that was issued yesterday at Uganda Tourism Board, hoteliers noted that hotel occupancy had reduced by 30% from 50% based on statistics from previous years. That the introduction of VAT led to an increase in the price hence forcing tourists to abandon Uganda as a tourism destination.

We therefore hope that with the increase in the sector budget, introduction of a single east African visa, tightening our security, creating an enabling investment environment and infrastructural development with go a long way to help the country develop its tourism sector so that tourists can get to know about Uganda. If all that was sighted in the budget like marketing Uganda, developing potential tourism products as well as developing skills, then the country and sector will be seen as moving in the right direction. We continue to urge government to provide more funds to the tourism sector since what has been offered is still way below what Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania are offering.

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