KAMPALA —Tour operators under their umbrella organization — Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) — have turned down an invite by Uganda Tourism Board, for a scheduled event dubbed “Rediscover the Magnificence of our Pearl”.
The UTB spearheaded event is scheduled for Friday January 2022 and President Museveni is expected to the Chief Guest.
UTA President, Herbert Byaruhanga in a statement released Wednesday UTB has continuously sidelined tourism and hospitality sector.
“… we as the private sector of tourism and hospitality, have decided to boycott this event being organized by the Uganda Tourism Board -a government Agency.
It is not, and never has it been our wish to disconnect ourselves from anything related to tourism organized by any government agency in this country but due to many reasons, the private sector of tourism and hospitality (array of associations) has taken a decision to turn down this invitation,”Mr. Byaruhanga wrote.
He cited key among other reasons for the boycott, lack of engagement by the government (tourism) in decision making and planning for this very event and many other initiatives which make the private sector of tourism and hospitality feel sidelined.
“Being the drivers of the business, we feel excluded from this entire process. It should be noted that tour operators and other actors spend millions of dollars traversing continents looking for tourists/clients. This contributes so much to the country’s revenue for example 2018/19, Uganda registered 1.4 Billion dollars from tourism”.
He added: “It is a shame that government can plan to re-discover the magnificence of country when the real actors are not fully consulted for their input to ensure maximum benefits from the drive”
Byaruhanga also noted that throughout the Covid-19 period; the government of Uganda deliberately ignored the tourism business without any stimulus package, a development that has seen many of the SMEs close without any help or support hand from government.
“Thirdly, the government (tourism) has on several occasions conducted activities or procurements that seem to compete and undermine private sector or discouraged activities of private sector players”
Despite tourism being a fundamental sector in Uganda, Byaruhanga says the government has deliberately ignored tourism in the recent high level workshop “5th Economic Growth Forum” that was held at Kampala Serena Hotel on the 13th January 2022.
“Therefore it does not make sense to us, the private sector of tourism and hospitality to blindly engage in activities of government to flag off initiatives where we are left out of the initial planning process”
“Moreover, UTB deems it right to extend invitations to private sector players to attend and listen to their undertakings and approve without any contributions which is clear rubberstamping the private sector players. To our end, this is irresponsible and utter disregard of the private sector. This is unacceptable and we will not embrace or use the brand”.