Opening Remarks by Ms Almaz Gebru, UNDP Country Director at the Uganda Tourism Association Strategic Plan Validation Workshop
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities,
The Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board,
The President, Uganda Tourism Association,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to take part in the Uganda Tourism Association 5 year strategic plan validation workshop today.
This workshop is a crucial step in providing a basis for the revival of the Uganda Tourism Association and starting a forum where private sector associations’ members can advocate for policies and practices that promote sustainable tourism development in Uganda.
As you are all aware, tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in Uganda and globally. It is a powerful vehicle for spurring economic growth and job creation world over.
In the last 50 years alone, international tourism has grown extra-ordinarily and is now one of the most important industries in the world. In Uganda, it has become one of the key sources for both employment and generation of foreign currency revenues for the economy.
The potential of the tourism industry to contribute towards economic growth, employment and socio-economic transformation of the poor can therefore not be underestimated. It is for this reason that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting the Government of Uganda in its efforts to grow the tourism sector.
Already the Government has identified tourism as one of the primary growth sectors which will help it reach middle income status in the next 30 years as per the country’s long term plan, Vision 2040.
As consultations for the National Development Plans, also supported by UNDP go on, it has become clear that the tourism sector will become a mainstay of the economy making the highest contribution to foreign exchange earnings, employment, tax and non-tax revenue, and to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Despite this recognition and Uganda’s rich endowment with diverse tourism products and attractions, not many strategic interventions have been undertaken to boost growth and private sector investment in the sector.
It is for this reason that UNDP is supporting the government to ensure that tourism policy framework is consistent with and responsive to both national and global contexts. This policy framework takes into account various issues that were not previously addressed by the existing policies and strategies, these issues include; regional integration; new tourism trends, products and enterprises such as game farming and game ranching and sustainable utilisation of Uganda’s tourism attractions and cultural heritage among other things.
Additionally it has increased the potential and scope for strengthening the participation of community and small scale enterprises in tourism value chains.
UNDP places great importance on the role of private sector as a key partner in the fight against poverty, achieving the MDGs and advancing sustainable human development.
In this regard, it is working with the Uganda Tourism Board to support national efforts to promote people-centred and inclusive growth in the tourism sector using value chain approach.
This is being achieved through interventions aimed at integrating small enterprises, the poor and local communities into the tourism value chains as entrepreneurs, employees and consumers to increase their opportunities for market access and employment.
One of the activities under this project is geared towards strengthening governance and management of existing tourism support institutions and associations such as the Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) which as an apex body for private sector tourism associations in the country lacked a strategic plan.
A five year strategic plan has therefore been developed to enable the association harness private sector led national initiatives for tourism development and promotion.
I am reliably informed that process of the developing this plan has been participatory and that is why we are all here today to provide our final comments before its officially launched as a key tool to guide UTA in promotion of a profitable and sustainable tourism sector.
On behalf of UNDP, I would like to thank the Government of Uganda and in particular the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities; and Uganda Tourism Board for allowing us to work with them in the development and promotion of the tourism sector.
I also thank the President of the Uganda Tourism Association, Mr Herbert Byaruhanga and his team for their leadership in the process of formulating this strategic plan and all participants present here today for setting aside time and resources to participate in this validation workshop.
UNDP remains committed to supporting the government of Uganda and other national partners promoting meaningful and sustainable human development.
I thank you all.