Tourism sector players in Uganda have described as a drop in the ocean the 2022/23 budgetary allocation to the sector.
Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija on Tuesday announced that Shs194.7b has been allocated to the sector to drive it back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond by prioritizing the facilitation of the Uganda Tourism Board brand, sustaining and upscaling investment in tourism infrastructure like roads, electricity, and internet, security, among others.
But sector players said the money will not do much.
Boniface Byamukama, the chairman Exclusive Sustainable Tourism Uganda, noted that allocations did not go to areas of immediate impact.
“When government recently re-launched the Explore Uganda Pearl of Africa Campaign, we imagined we were on track to revamp the sector which was hit harder by Covid, now look at how much we have.
The tourism sector thrives on marketing, if you have nice roses and you don’t go out telling people, who will buy them,” Byamukama wondered.
Jean Byamugisha Executive Director Uganda Hotel Owners Association said: “Before Covid-19 broke out, we were contributing $1.6b in revenue. This has dropped and we needed a bigger uplift. We currently pay 25% taxes annually which hurts our businesses and we did not receive any stimulus package during Covid.
What will this money do to revamp the sector? Clearly, we are headed nowhere and the sector will struggle for a while as private players take the lead.”
In 2016, the government appointed international firms to market Uganda abroad.
Although this yielded some results, sector players insisted that it was only fair that marketing is handed to them as they best understand Uganda’s tourism.