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Uganda: Uganda tour operators need government for marketing

2014/03/13

Uganda tour operators have reiterated the need for government to increase its funding budget to tourism marketing to at least $5 million.

The operators say the government has not from presently on prioritized the sector giving it little attention.

The government and the World Bank recently signed a credit financing facility of $25 million to tourism, of which $12 million were allocated to the revamping of the Jinja Tourism Training Institute. About $3million was allotted to building capacity in the Uganda Tourism Board and the tourism ministry.

However, the remaining $10million has not been assigned according to Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba.

It's this $10million balance what tour operators want the government to avail to tourism marketing this year.

"Funding towards tourism marketing is still very low. Kenya provides $34 million to marketing, Tanzania ($12 million), Rwanda ($5 million), Burundi ($1.5 million) and Uganda- only $90,000. Even the new management at UTB will struggle with such kind of funding.

The sector should be given minimum $5m if we're critical with tourism as a business," said Ms. Kelly McTavish Mungar the Managing Director Pearl of Africa Tours and Travel.

"Uganda's tourism industry has been confined. It's given limited attention from presently on it's a multi-billion generating sector," added Mr. Cuthbert Baguma the immediate former Executive Director of the Uganda Tourism Board, the official government tourism marketing agency.

This was during a breakfast conference in Kampala where the Uganda Investment Authority presented a study and findings of the constraints to fast tracking tourism development in Uganda.

The study- Building Competitiveness in Tourism as a strategic intervention for attracting quality investment was carried out and presented by Rebecca Wamono of the Uganda Investment Authority.

According to her findings, the lack of identity/brand at the international level, inadequate price addition of tourism products and services, the negative media publicity that discourages international travelers and tourists and the insufficient supporting infrastructure and utilities like roads, energy, and air travel makes it difficult to attract high end international investors and joint ventures in tourism.

She said the lack of a national carrier and the very few domestic carriers have affected marketing, flight numbers and visitors to Uganda.

"The impact of the construction of the 180MW Isimba Hydro Power Project on water rafting on the Victoria Nile is huge inclunding the lack of national mentorship programme for children and the general public about tourism and conservation," Wamono noted in her findings.

Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba advised the different tourism associations to get united and always compile, and disseminate the right figures for proper planning.

"Tourism is currently a disjointed sector. We need to build competitiveness in the sector by always proving the correct tourism figures and statistics," she advised the conference.

James Tumusiime, the Chairman of the Uganda Tourism Board, warned the grumbling different associations in tourism not to make his body a rival of other agency organizations

"UTB is ready to fly with the new management. Invest in areas that empower Public Private Partnerships," Tumusiime advised the private sector in tourism.

Herbert Byaruhanga, the president of Uganda Tourism association said the government should create an enabling environment for local tourism investors to invest by allowing them tax waivers and holidays.

EAC nations are as well working towards a single destination marketing plan.

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