Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has urged players in the tourism sector to work together for the benefit of the country. Museveni made the plea on Monday while meeting officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the Uganda Tourism Board and tourism sector stakeholders at State House in Entebbe.
“Talk properly, look for people who can add value to what you’re doing, harmonize,” Museveni said, as the team discussed several contentious issues including government handling of investment in marketing tourism, which markets to focus on, marketing initiatives, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo brand and the Dubai expo, among others.
He also agreed to a request by tour operators for him to visit one of the National Parks as part of government efforts to promote tourism, which remains Uganda’s biggest export, contributing USD 1.6 billion to Uganda’s GDP and accounts for over 660,000 jobs as of 2019.
The sector was however seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with the airport closure and lockdown. Civy Tumusiime of Acacia Safaris, the Board Chair of the Association of Tour Operators urged the President to intervene in communities living in the National parks including fishermen, pastoralists and agriculturalists who are in constant conflict with wildlife.
Tumusiime called for an aggressive marketing strategy and proper coordination and strengthening of the private sector. She requested the President to meet and address the private sectors players in the industry with over 3800 hotels, 600 tour operators and over 700 tour guides most of whom are young people, a request he granted with a visit to one of the parks.
Meanwhile, the private tour operators also asked to be included on the Board of Uganda Airlines, Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Investment Authority, Export Promotions Board and the Petroleum Authority among others.
“The Ministry should work with the private tour operators and harmonize. You all have good ideas look at all of them. Involve all stakeholders. If they want to be included on the Boards, there is no problem with that,” he said.
The meeting was attended among others by State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the Permanent Secretary Doreen Katusiime, former Minister of Lands and Housing who is now Chairman UTB Daudi Migereko, UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova and the leadership of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) and that of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO).