Tourism sector profile in Uganda
Pearl of Africa
Sir Winston Churchill called ‘Uganda ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of its flora and fauna. It is a home of many species of animals including the African buffalo, hippos, elephants, lions, rhino, gorillas, leopards and others. It has many species of birds, butterflies and moths. It has mountains, swamps, rivers, lakes forests, jungles, hot springs, savannah, Crater lakes, fertile and semi-arid land and it is the most bio-diverse countries in Africa. The River Nile starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea from Uganda. In addition Ugandans are open and friendly to visitors.
The tourism sector is regulated by the Tourism Act 2008 that favours private sector participation in tourism development. Also in place is the Uganda Tourism Policy, 2015 which is aimed at enhancing competitiveness of Uganda as a tourism destination .The policy refocuses the sector to effectively contribute to national socio-economic transformation and achievement of the National Vision 2040. The management and protection of wild animals rests with Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Performance of the sector
Tourism continues to be a pillar of Uganda’s economy, contributing nearly Shs7.3b to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the financial year 2015/2016. This translates into 9 per cent of the country’s GDP. This was an increase from Shs6.3b in 2014/15 financial year. Over the years, the increase in visitor arrivals has been accompanied by an increase in earnings from tourism exports and services. Earnings from tourism have more than doubled in the period between 2008 and 2015 from US$ 540 million in 2008 to US$ 1,366 million (UGX 3,549.3Bn)1 in 2014/2015 which is 4.3% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 26% of total exports.
|Foreign Exchange Earnings in million US $||540||594||662||805||1003||1085||1366|
|Source: Government Annual Performance Report, 2014/15 by Office of Prime Minister|
The budget to the Ministry of Tourism had a spontaneous increase from 13.9 billion in 2012/13 and 31.5 billion in 2013/14 to 99.6 billion in 2015/16.
Hotel and Accommodation facilities
It is estimated that Uganda has a total of approximately 1300 registered establishments offering accommodation, meeting and conference facilities. These establishments have approximately 20,000 rooms with close to 30,000 beds to canter for tourists. Of these 1300 establishments, 600 are in tourism centric districts of Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja. Uganda is currently a major destination for business travellers, international conferences and meetings in the East African region because of availability of accommodation and conference facilities. Over 90% of all accommodation facilities in Uganda are owned by the private sector..
Training of human capital
Uganda has one government training centre, the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI), located in Jinja. The Crested Crane Hotel in Jinja offers practical to the students from the Institute. In addition a number of Ugandan universities are offering degrees and diploma programs in the area of leisure and tourism.
Investment opportunities in Uganda’s tourism sector
- Construction of a Wild life/Forest Lodge.
- Establishment of White Sand Resort Beaches
- Domestic Air Transport.
- Development of various modern facilties to support the sector
- Establishment of Tourism and Hospitality Training Institute
Challenges in Tourism sector
Despite being one of the fastest growing sectors in Uganda with an annual growth rate of 21% and a total contribution of $1.4 billion in 2016 to the GDP, the tourism sector is facing the following challenges.
- Lack of a national carrier resulting in unfavourable flight connections to source markets.
- Inadequate governing funding to the sector
- Poaching of wildlife
- Lack of adequate number of trained and experienced people to manage the sector
- Perceived insecurity in Uganda by tourists from the western world.
- The global threat of terrorism.
- Population pressure on the protected areas.
- Insufficient marketing