Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities has announced a significant rise in the number of Ugandans engaging in local tourism over the past two years.
Martin Mugarra, the State Minister for Tourism, revealed that the count of Ugandan nationals visiting various domestic tourist destinations has surpassed pre-COVID levels.
This uptake observed as of July 2023, indicates a positive trend for the tourism sector, which could contribute significantly to the country’s economy. Mugarra highlighted that the Uganda Museum witnessed a particularly astonishing surge in visitors. The museum had maintained an annual attendance ceiling of 55,000 visitors for an extended period prior to the pandemic.
However, it has now exceeded its historical record by attracting an additional 10,000 visitors. Similarly, other tourist destinations have also reported increased footfalls. As the upcoming World Tourism Day approaches on September 27th, 2023, the minister encouraged Ugandans to actively participate in the lead-up events, demonstrating their strong interest in local tourism by exploring various sites over the past two years.
This year’s World Tourism Day celebrations will take place in Hoima City under the theme “Tourism and Green Investment.” The minister perceives this as an opportunity to heighten awareness about sustainable tourism and position Uganda as an appealing destination in both local and international markets.
Given that Uganda’s tourism sector heavily relies on nature and culture, accounting for over 70 percent of its visitors, the country aims to sustain the industry by prioritizing environmental conservation throughout its value chain.
Lilly Ajarova, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, stresses the importance of green practices in maintaining the sector’s viability. “It is a fact that our tourism sector heavily depends on nature and culture, accounting for more than 70 percent of our visitors. Therefore, if we don’t take care of the environment and nature, the industry will be severely affected. To sustain it, we must consciously invest in green practices,” Ajarova stated.
Ivan Tumuhimbise, the Country Director for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Uganda, underscores the inseparable connection between tourism and conservation efforts. He emphasizes that wildlife survival hinges on habitat preservation, which includes the communities surrounding tourism sites.
Brian Kaboyo, Mayor of Hoima City, expressed appreciation for his city being chosen as the host for this year’s World Tourism Day event. He sees this as an opportunity to spotlight Hoima’s identity as an oil city to a global audience and has organized various activities, including a mayor’s conference to discuss tourism and business opportunities.