New strategy to improve coordination of private sector in tourism development

Aug 21, 2014

Imbalu dancers: The Bamasaba cultural circumcision ceremony also known as Imbalu, is one of the key cultural activities that are being jointly marketed by government and the tourism private sector. The ceremony, which is a popular tourist attraction, involves circumcision of males, signifying their entry in to adulthood. It has been running for generations among the Bamasaaba ethnic group in eastern Uganda (Photo: Mathias Mugisha/UNDP)

KAMPALA - A new UNDP-supported 5-year strategy launched today by the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) is expected to improve coordination among the numerous private sector operators that support the tourism economy, significantly expanding Uganda’s tourism advantage. 

The strategy also aims to increase the private sector's contribution to policy making, and tourism product development and marketing through joint initiatives with government and other actors, and improve skills development and standards in the sector.

“This Strategic Plan will help UTA to focus its activities and energy towards developing sustainable tourism in Uganda,” said Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga, President of the UTA, in his introductory remarks at the launch of the Strategy at a cocktail at Serena Hotel in Kampala.

While officiating at the launch of the strategy, Ms Maria Mutagambwa, Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, urged the association to observe high standards of professionalism and identify specific niches within the sector in which to develop capacity and improve the quality of tourism services.

Mr Stephen Asiimwe, Executive Director, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), appreciated the support of UNDP in funding the strategy as part of its broader intervention in the sector, and pledged to work more closely with UTA on innovative products, pointing to the recently launched Imbalu male cultural circumcision festival in Mbale, Eastern Uganda, as one of several initiatives that have been jointly developed with the private sector to diversify the country’s tourism portfolio.

In her remarks, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, called for more coherent policies, as well as greater effort to involve small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to ensure that communities around the major tourism sites are involved in tourism development and benefit from the sector.

“I call on government and the tourism private sector to work in partnership and to continue engaging with local communities to develop tourism that is pro-poor, inclusive, community-oriented and sustainable,” she said.

She added: “As a vital driver of innovation, investment and job creation, the role of private sector is crucial in advancing the progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on the post-2015 development agenda”.

Tourism is currently one of Uganda’s biggest exports, bringing in nearly USD$ 1.1billion (2013) in annual revenue. The sector, is regarded as one of the key drivers for economic growth and job creation, and has also emerged as one of the leading pillars of the second National Development Plan whose formulation is already underway. For every one dollar spent by a tourist, four jobs in Uganda are created, according to research by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Tourism is one of the two key sectors, along with agriculture, at the heart of UNDP’s poverty reduction programme in Uganda.  Over the last three years, support has been provided to develop a Tourism Policy to improve coordination and provide a platform for consensus building on key issues in the sector. UNDP has also supported the development of a National Tourism Master plan due to be launched in September 2014, as well as creation of business linkages between different actors along the tourism value chain.

Uganda Tourism Association, is the apex tourism body of tour operators in Uganda, comprising travel agents, hoteliers, tour guides, and community-based organisations.

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