COVID-19: Tourism earnings drop by half – Minister Bahati

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The iconic Mountain Gorillas, are understandably the main drawcard for travellers visiting Uganda

Kampala, Uganda – The Minister of State for Planning David Bahati says the country’s tourism sector earnings will drop to US Dollars 700 million in the current financial year 2019/2020.

Bahati says the drop will be 39 percent compared to the previous financial year.

Uganda’s Tourism sector has in the past been the country’s main export fetching on average US Dollars 1.4 billion annually.

Bahati was on Thursday afternoon appearing before Parliament’s Budget Committee chaired by Ntenjeru North MP Amos Lugoloobi to present the budget estimates for the coming financial year 2020/2021.

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In his remarks, the Minister noted that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has already had a huge negative impact on the global economy saying that his Ministry has observed a large fall in the value of stocks and other financial instruments traded in with the global growth rate expected to reduce further from 2.9 percent to 2.4 percent.

“With Uganda recording 53 cases now and coupled with a number of measures to control the spread of the pandemic, the negative impacts on the private sector are expected to worsen even further in the next few coming months,” said Bahati in part.

The Minister specifically noted a projection in the drop in the Tourism earnings amounting to US Dollars 700 million this financial year. Bahati also noted that manufacturing and trade sectors which have hitherto relied heavily on supplies from China, India and Europe have also registered a significant decline in production and sales.

The Minister says that various sectors are affected, with tourism and industry which are the major sources of foreign exchange earnings to be hit the most. He added that foreign exchange earnings have drastically reduced on account of declining demand and travel restrictions.

Bahati explained that government plans to implement fiscal and monetary policy measures to reduce the negative effects on the economy as well as the livelihoods of most of the vulnerable population.

Bahati says that the Bank of Uganda has already developed a wide range of monetary policy measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and that these are to be presented to Parliament.

The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) had strategized to grow Uganda’s tourism revenue from US Dollars 1.4 billion to US Dollars 2.7 billion, about Shillings 9.8 trillion by end of 2020.

The lockdown of the economy and fear of COVID-19 means no one can travel to tourism spots. Tour operators have said they were operating at zero with literally nothing happening in the industry at the moment.

(URN)

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