President Yoweri Museveni has said promoting investment in the Tourism sector will support the growth of the country’s economy through creation of employment and additional investment opportunities.

President Museveni, in his remarks delivered by the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said tourism has become a global socio-economic phenomenon which is yet to be fully harnessed by all Ugandans.

The World Tourism day celebrations held at Kakyeka stadium in Mbarara on Tuesday were organised under the theme “Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility”

The President called upon Ugandans to aggressively invest and engage in domestic tourism by promoting and supporting the various campaigns in the tourism sector such as the “Tulambule campaign” which calls for all Ugandans to tour their country.

President Museveni said one billion tourists globally travelled beyond their country boarders in 2015, adding that at least one in ten people around the world are employed by the travel and hospitality industry, with tourism creating $3 billion in business every day.

The President also acknowledge Uganda’s remarkable potential in tourism as evidenced by the various accolades received in the past few years including the Lonely planet, an independent tourists’ trusted information source that named Uganda its top destination for 2011/12.

Other trusted Publications that awarded Uganda accolades include the National Geographic Travel Magazine in the article “Virunga: One of the 20 must – see places for 2012”, Travel Africa Magazine in the article “Bwindi: Best African Birding Destination (2011) and National Geographic in the article “Rwenzori Mountains: One of World’s 15 Best Hikes” in 2012.

Mr Museveni also recognized Uganda’s increasing growth in international arrivals with an average of 20% per annum and also the increasing contribution of tourism to foreign exchange from US$662m in 2010 to US$ to 1.3bn in 2015 accounting for around 9.9%GDP and 7.8% of the total employment.

“Government is considering to revive the National Airline to facilitate easy accessibility into the country which will improve on the number of tourist arrivals to Uganda. There is also need to invest in domestic air travel and also avail more international air connectivity in order to reduce the high costs of air travel both to and within Uganda for promotion of the sector,” said the President.

He said government was tirelessly working to support and promote investment in tourism adding that government has prioritised tourism in the vision 2040, the five year National Tourism Development Plan 2015/16 -2019/ 20 and the ten year Tourism Master Plan.

“In Uganda, we have packaged attractive investment incentives ranging from profit repatriation, tax holidays, facilitating importation of special tourist vehicles and property acquisition through a one stop centre  by the Uganda Investment Authority,” said Museveni.

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu in his speech called upon all Ugandans to become tourists in their country and also partner with the tourism sector and work towards promoting Uganda’s vision of achieving a middle income status by 2020.

“We can make Uganda the great nation of Africa if Tourism is well marketed. We need to be competitive in the sector but we cannot compete without products, infrastructure, knowledge and skills,” Mr Kamuntu cautioned.

The Tourism Minister also urged Ugandans to ensure peace and stability in the country if tourism is to be promoted successfully.

The districts of Isingiro, Mbarara and Kiruhura received cheques worth over 175 million shillings from Uganda wildlife Authority as a share of tourism proceeds from Lake Mburo National Park to the surrounding communities for the year 2015.

Proprietors of hotels across the country were also recognised after grading and classification by Uganda Tourism Board. The hotels were graded and classified as two star, three star, four star and five star respectively.

Mbale Resort hotel and Lake Victoria Serena Resort and Spa qualified under the five star category while Igongo cultural centre  in Mbarara,Jinja Nile Resort and Golf Course hotel, Kampala among others were awarded among the four star category.

Colline Hotel Mukono, White horse inn Kabale and Boma hotel Gulu are three star hotels while  Kalya Courts hotel in Fort Portal among others were classified as two star hotels.

The World Tourism day celebrations marked the climax of a successful and eventful week which has focused national attention to the tourism potential of Uganda and particularly Mbarara and Ankole region at large.

ENDS

Thursday, 29 September 2016

By Doreen Nasasira