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- On September 19, 2019
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Uganda tourism fraternity is celebrating the rise of tourist arrivals to Uganda by 7.4% in 2018. Tourism statistics show that in 2018, Uganda registered a 7.4% increase in tourist arrivals checking in to national parks and other tourism sites in the Pearl of Africa. This generated USD 1.6Bn improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The good news was shared during the tourism sector review workshop for the year 2018 which hosted various officials from Uganda Tourism Board, Ministry of Tourism and other tourism bodies in Uganda. It was discovered that Europe is the major origin of tourists to Uganda generating 13.8% of the total tourist arrivals to the Pearl of Africa. Asia contributes 10.2% tourists, the Middle East contribute 9.7% tourists while America contributes 9.2% of the total tourist arrivals to Uganda. Therefore Europe, Asia, Middles East and America are the major market source for tourist to the Pearl of Africa. The high number of tourist arrivals to Uganda generated USD 1.6 billion in 2018 a big rise compared to UDS 1.45 billion in 2017 and the previous years.
Increase in Government Revenue
Tourism now ranks as Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed 7.7% equaling to 8 trillion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Also, Tourism is Uganda’s major export earner, which scooped USD 1.6bn from travelers visiting various tourism products all over the country. Uganda’s main tourist spots are national parks (Bwindi forest, Mgahinga gorilla, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Fall, Mt Elgon, Mt Rwenzori, Semuliki Valley, Kidepo Valley, and Lake Mburo National parks) located in different corners of the country. Other tourism spots in Uganda include the source of the Nile, Uganda Museum and the Uganda Wildlife Centre (UWEC). In 2018, 325,345 visitors checked into national parks, 163,117 visited the source of River Nile, 364,121 visited the Uganda Wildlife Education center, while 54,374 toured the Uganda museum.
Reasons for the steady growth of Uganda’s Tourism sector
The steady progress of the tourism sector with an increased number of tourist arrivals, job opportunities and foreign exchange earning is attributed to several factors.
These include among others:
It’s with no doubt that Uganda tourism board has done a tremendous job in marketing Uganda tourism products to all parts of the world. Unlike in the past when Uganda was reluctant to marketing her tourism, the pearl of Africa is now doing the opposite. Great thanks to UTB and all other tourism and government bodies who have maintained the presence of Uganda in key markets. Intensified tourism marketing has exposed Uganda’s beauty to the outside world encouraging a high number of travelers to come and explore. Also, new tourism products have been promoted hence diversifying tourism activities for upcoming travelers.
Involvement of local people
Unlike in the past when local people were not part of tourism, the government has today put programs that involve local people in tourism activities. Local people are now hired as porters especially in gorilla tours to Bwindi/Mgahinga, others are hired as local guides, housekeepers and service providers in lodge and hotels. Also, 20% of total tourism revenue is given back to local communities to support local projects and improve local livelihoods.
Challenges facing the tourism sector in Uganda
Amidst the strive to promote Uganda tourism; the sector is still facing various challenges which pull it back. The common challenges facing tourism in Uganda include loss of habit to human encroachment for agricultural and settlement land, poaching, negative travel advisories, lack of product diversity and inadequate management are still hindering the flourishing of the tourism sector in Uganda.
Based on the current progress, Uganda tourism target to attract over 4 million tourist arrivals in 2020. With expansive marketing, new diversified tourism products and involvement of local people, Uganda tourism will flourish up to the skies.