The Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said Uganda Vision 2040 identifies tourism as one of the opportunities that should be better harnessed to propel Uganda into a middle income status

The Premier commended the Ministry of Tourism for fulfilling the requirements of government accounting procedures by regularly holding annual sector reviews as a way of taking stock for the ministry’s achievements, challenges and strategies for moving forward.

PM Rugunda poses for a photo with other officials during the Tourism Sector Review Conference at Hotel African on Thursday,on  PM’s (R) is Prof Kamuntu and Hon Kiwanda on his (L) (Photo by PMPU)

The Prime Minister made these remarks while opening the 7th annual tourism sector review conference organised under the theme “Unlocking the tourism potential as an engine for attaining middle income status by 2020” on Thursday at hotel Africana.

The Premier said that the Tourism sector has been growing consistently and contributing greatly towards the development of the economy since the restoration of peace and security evidenced by its total GDP of 9.9% which amounts for USD 2.13 billion in 2014 compared to USD 0.8 billion in 2006.

“The sector has emerged as a top foreign exchange earner with growth rates that are propelling the service sector, jobs and employment as well as development of hotels, restaurants, tourist facilities, and leisure sports and also boosted the inter-linkages between other sectors,” Dr Rugunda said.

He pledged government support to the sector through a number of mechanisms including the continued protection and preservation of the country’s eco-systems, reorganization of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and launching of the single tourism visa for easy access of visitors to three East African states of Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

However the Prime Minister advised the Tourism sector to take advantage of the current opportunities availed by the vigour and excellent leadership of the sector, emphasizing that the sector still has more to do if it is to implement the NRM manifesto as well as drive the country to a middle income status by 2020.

The Minister for tourism, wildlife and antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu said the Tourism sector is committed towards the development of Uganda into a middle income status country.

“As a sector, I want us to move, grow and develop the Ugandan tourism industry as well as other economic sectors so that our contribution towards Uganda’s goal of achieving a middle income status by 2020 doesn’t lag behind,” Prof Kamuntu said.

The Director of tourism, wildlife and antiquities, James Lutalo said that the sector performed fairly well in the FY 2015/2016, achieving 59.40% of the set indictors while 20.3% was not achieved and there was no assessment indictors for 20.40%.

Mr Lutalo said a number of amendments have been put in place to boost the tourism sector including improving infrastructure in terms of roads to ease transportation, conservation of wildlife and controlling illegal fires through establishing fire lines to control the spread of the fire among others. ENDS. By Doreen Nasasira