Uganda’s tourism industry is one of the most consistent foreign exchange earner this country has had. This was confirmed by the Tourism Ministry permanent secretary, Mrs Doreen Katusiime who revealed that the sector had earned Uganda more than USD1 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
She made these remarks at the official opening of the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS) conference that kicked off in Kampala today.
“The Tourism sector is highlighted as a key economic sector that has earned Uganda USD 1.45 billion in foreign exchange earnings in 2017 compared to USD 1.37 bn in 2016,” Mrs Katusiime said.
Adding that, “For the country’s national development, tourism is cited as one of the top three areas for growth opportunities.”
She however noted, that the challenge and opportunity for Uganda was that the current economic contribution from the tourism sector is only a fraction of its potential.
Mrs Katusiime observed that, there was need to address the challenge and tap into the opportunities that necessitate fundamental reforms.
“While the country is richly endowed with both natural and manmade resources on the basis of which a rich tourist products’ menu (wildlife, culture and heritage, birding, MICE, adventure etc) is offered; the product menu has seen steady and impressive growth of demand (currently estimated at 1.5m) as of 2018,” Mrs Katusiime said.
She proposed the need for innovative approaches in product development, destination marketing and positioning, service provision, policy development, conservation of natural, cultural and historical heritage, human resource development and financing mechanisms.
“As government, we have been struggling with this. This conference is timely, we expect to learn a lot that will feed into the gaps as elaborated,” Mrs Katusiime said.
Talking to Africa Tembelea on the sidelines of the conference on Wednesday, Associate Professor Wilber Ahebwa, the Atlas Africa Cordinator, said the conference comes at a very crucial moment when Uganda is trying to focus on innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships.
There is always a gap which constrains consumption of research knowledge generated in Universities. The conference will bridge the academic and practitioners added Assoc. Prof Wilber Ahebwa.
He revealed that this time round, Public and Private sector players like Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Tour Operators and hoteliers are all represented at the conference as it helps in knowledge sharing and exchange.
Among the key note speakers are; Prof Rene van der Duim, the chair Atlas Global , Prof. Wineaster Anderson from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, James Musinguzi from Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and Stephen Asiimwe, who formerly served as CEO at Uganda Tourism Board.
At the end of the conference, a panel discussion will discuss and share main pick up points on innovation in Tourism.
– Atlas Africa Conference 2019 –
The Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research (ATLAS) was established in 1991 to develop transnational educational and research initiatives in tourism and leisure. ATLAS provides a forum to promote student and research exchange, transnational research and to facilitate curriculum and professional development. The Association currently has members in about 60 countries.