Uganda gets a Blueprint for its Tourism Sector

Sep 29, 2014

Hon Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities cuts the ribbon to launch the ten year Tourism Development Master Plan. Assisting her are Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (with black cap) and Mr. Harsh Varma, the Director Technical Cooperation Services, UN World Tourism Organisation. (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda 2014)

MBALE - A blueprint for developing the Uganda tourism industry in a sustainable way has been launched. The ten-year, Uganda Tourism Development Master Plan was unveiled during celebrations to mark World Tourism Day at Maluku Grounds in Mbale Town, Eastern Uganda.

The long term plan will help the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to identify and focus on addressing key challenges constraining the growth of the sector ranging from strengthening the regulatory regime, institutional management, sector management, promotion and capacity building.

“This plan will guide the development of the sector in the next ten years and its success will depend on the commitment and coordination of all the sector players,” Hon. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said while launching the plan.

She added that the plan focuses on creation of regional tourism development areas to devolve the coordination and promotion of tourism in the key attraction areas. It also looks at diversifying tourism products giving prominence to other segments like agro-tourism, culture and faith based tourism while consolidating the nature and wildlife products which are already hugely popular.

Also speaking at the event, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Resident Representative Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie reiterated UN’s commitment to supporting the government in growing the tourism sector to transform Uganda sustainably.

“As the UN we are proud of the opportunity that was given to us to partner with the Government in preparing this Tourism Master Plan and also the tourism policy which was recently approved by Cabinet,” Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie said.

Focusing on the day’s theme of Tourism and Community Development, Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie called on Government to ensure inclusive participation in the sector for all to ensure wholesome growth and development.

“Increasing the involvement of the poor, women and the unemployed youth in the tourism value chain could contribute to the development of the local economy and poverty reduction. This can include the local supply of products, labour and other tourism services,” she said.

Hon. Mutagamba also added to this saying that the day’s theme underscored the potential of tourism to promote opportunities for communities.

“Tourism can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing the social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance. There can be no real tourism development if such development damages in anyway, the values and the culture of host communities or if the social economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level,” Hon. Mutagamba said.

The Minister added that she was glad the people of Mbale had already recognised the potential of tourism through the development of community based tourism activities such as the recently concluded Imbalu festival which highlighted the unique culture of the region attracting both local and international tourists.

“The choice of Mbale was opportune and as we stand in the background of the Wanale escarpment, the hill with thousands of waterfalls and a true tourism paradise; we are proud and thank the people of Mbale for allowing us to share and enjoy the region’s beautiful scenery, strong cultural heritage and the delicate eco system of the Elgon,” Hon. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said while officiating at celebrations to mark the day.

She called on the local leaders to harness these opportunities and use them to attract more tourists to the region and also the entire country.

Mbale Town was also brought to a standstill making history when it hosted the first ever hot air balloon ride in Uganda carrying sixteen people from the key tourism departments, development agencies and the media as part of celebrations to mark the World tourism Day 2014.

The hot air balloon ride which was made possible by Uganda Balloon Safari Tours Limited is part of the Ministry’s and the Tourism Master Plan’s goal of tourism product diversification as part of efforts to attract both local and foreign tourists to all parts of Uganda.

Tourism is one of the most significant economic sectors of in the world currently. Moving more than one billion people across international borders each year, tourism today accounts for 9% of global GDP and one in every 11 jobs on the planet. In Uganda, it is estimated that one job in the core tourism industry creates about one and a half additional or indirect jobs employing 8% of the Ugandan workforce both directly and indirectly.

Closing the ceremony, Mbale’s Local Council Five Chairperson Mr. Bernard Mujasi thanked the Ministry for bringing the 2014 World Tourism Day celebrations to Mbale and requested help in guiding the local governments in improving their tourism planning and sites to ensure their maximum use.

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