brown and black giraffe on brown grass field

Amidst concerns over lacklustre international tourist arrivals and stiff competition from neighbouring East African nations, Uganda’s parliament is rallying for an increase in the budget allocated to promote the country’s rich tourism offerings.

During a recent meeting to evaluate Uganda’s tourism performance, the Sectoral Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry expressed dismay over the subdued influx of tourists from key markets such as the US, China, and Europe. Statistics revealed that in the first half of the fiscal year, only 67,252 tourists arrived from these regions, accounting for a mere 24% of the targeted 281,760 arrivals by June 2024.

Despite these challenges, the allocated budget for Uganda’s Tourism Development Programme remains stagnant at UGX 248.7 billion (€61.3 million) for the 2024/25 fiscal year. Martin Bahinduka, Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, emphasized the need for a bolstered marketing budget to enhance Uganda’s competitiveness in the global tourism arena.

“The potential of the sector is enormous, but the current budget for marketing Uganda, at UGX 10 billion (AUD3.9 million), is inadequate,” Bahinduka asserted during the committee meeting.

In response, the committee recommended an additional allocation of UGX 4 billion (€1 million) to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB). This extra funding aims to engage international and national media outlets in crafting positive narratives to bolster Uganda’s destination image.

Moreover, the committee underscored the urgency for Uganda to match the tourism efforts of its regional counterparts like Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya, especially in leveraging attractions such as gorilla trekking. Despite being home to approximately half of the world’s mountain gorillas, Uganda’s gorilla trekking revenue pales in comparison to Rwanda’s earnings, which totalled $25 million in 2019.

Lily Ajarova, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, emphasized the importance of countering negative perceptions stemming from incidents like the terrorist attack in Queen Elizabeth National Park last year, which resulted in the tragic loss of two foreign tourists and their guide.

“We must counter such incidents by inviting more international media personnel to verify the safety of our destinations and report back positively,” Ajarova remarked.

As Uganda strives to enhance its tourism profile and allure, the call for increased marketing investment underscores the nation’s commitment to showcasing its diverse and captivating attractions on the global stage.

Editor Africa Beat

Africa Beat is the source of all your news and updates in the travel industry out of Africa. You will find also find reviews and features focused on Africa.

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