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Uganda Tourism Earnings Up to US$600 million

Monday, 13th December, 2010

Tourism earnings increased from $165.3m in 2001 to over $600m by 2009, making the industry a robust source of foreign exchange, according to Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) statistics.

This follows the growth of visitors from 205,287 to 817,000 over the past 10 years. The board points to relative peace, aggressive marketing through promotions and trade fairs as the reasons for the increased visitations.

At 51,812 visitors, the UK emerged the top Western country sending tourists to Uganda, followed by the US (42,418), while Sweden sent the least visitors (4,575).

India brought in (16,238), Canada (9,186), Germany (8, 083), Netherlands (7,136), China (6,088), Australia (5,342) and Italy (5,063).

In Africa, Kenya’s 249,786 was the continent’s biggest number, followed by Rwanda (181,339) while Somalia’s 5,096 visitors was the least.

Tanzania sent 45,278 visitors, Burundi (38,177), Congo Republic (25,774), South Africa (18,275), Sudan (16,169), DR Congo (12,495) and Ethiopia (5,096).

Tourists into Uganda usually come to experience the culture, visit national parks, and do all sorts of unique activities on offer, Cuthbert Baguma, the UTB executive director, said.

“However, the mountain gorillas are a unique attraction, which at the moment can only be found in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. So we get a lot of tourists for this,” he noted.

In five years, Baguma reckons the tourism industry will be the backbone of Uganda’s economy, with annual arrivals ranging between 1.5 million to two million tourists.

He pointed out that 50% of the tourists come to visit friends, for business (21%), holidays (15%) and others (13%). The highest number of visitors to the national game parks are non-resident foreigners, contributing 61,000 visitors, followed by students from Uganda (42,000) and citizens of Uganda (30,000).

Non-resident foreigners contribute (40%), students (28%), resident citizens (20%), resident foreigners (9%) and others (3%).

However, UTB is concerned that Ugandans do not appreciate the splendour and natural endowments the country is blessed with.

“Ugandans need to embrace their country by visiting tourism sites in their midst. If foreigners can come all the way from Europe and Asia to appreciate our country, why not us?” Baguma asked.

UTB has embarked on a domestic tourism campaign to increase its performance.

In this, it will promote national events like the Maytyr’s and Independence day celebrations.

“We are also carrying out domestic tourism media campaigns to encourage the natives to undertake tourism activities this festive season,” Baguma explained.

UTB also recently appointed Moses Kipsiro and Susan Kerunen as goodwill ambassadors to promote the local tourism industry.

Kipsiro was recognised for bagging two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in India, and Kerunen for emerging the best African artist in 2008 and at the 2009 Kora Award nominee. “We believe they will be a key marketing tool for our country,” Baguma said.

By Joel Ogwang - The New Vision

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