It is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Ugandan economy, but greater investment is needed to help the country fulfill its potential as a tourist destination
Tourism in Uganda is decidedly on the up. According to government figures, the decade from 2007 to 2016 saw international visitor arrivals double from 650,000 to more than 1.3 million. Earnings in the sector have increased likewise, from $540 million to $1.37 billion between 2008 and 2016.
But Uganda’s tourism bosses are aware that further investment is needed to improve infrastructure and develop tourism products that engage visitors from the moment they arrive. Noting that “Uganda is now being rated as the best destination to visit in Africa”, Tourism Minister Ephraim Kamuntu says this is the time to kick on, creating a virtuous circle that will underwrite the conservation of the country’s wildlife treasures.
“Tourism is taking centre stage in our economic development agenda because of its contribution to economic transformation. By driving this transformation, we can conserve 10 per cent of our land as a protected area for wildlife without any difficulty,” explains Mr Kamuntu, who is also an economics professor.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s latest annual report on Uganda, investment in the sector represented 4.9 per cent of total investment in the country’s economy in 2016, although the industry’s total contribution to GDP is somewhat higher. In this context, Mr Kamuntu emphasises the potential for increased investment from Britain, particularly in a post-Brexit era as London seeks to reconnect with the Commonwealth. “Uganda stands ready for new engagement with the UK.”
The legacy of well-managed tourism in Uganda will be the world’s gain, as demonstrated by the country’s successful programme to reintroduce white rhinos and the steady rise in the number of mountain gorillas, the iconic species for whom the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of their two home regions.