Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, has hit at Parliament and his cabinet colleagues over the persistent underfunding of the tourism sector.
Kamuntu says the government is getting its priorities wrong by failure to recognize the crucial contribution of the tourism sector to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Minister says the ministry hardly has money to run its activities yet the tourism sector is contributing about two trillion Shillings or 10% of the national budget.
He was presiding over the closure of the 8th Annual Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities review workshop. It reviewed his ministry's performance for the last financial year.
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The theme of the review held at Serena Hotel in Kampala was “Accelerating tourism growth to attain middle income status by 2020”. But Kamuntu says that is unlikely to happen with the persistent low funding for the tourism sectors.
He said if the government has committed itself to ensure that Uganda reaches middle-income status by 2020, then it has to equally direct resources to sectors that will drive that growth.
Professor Kamuntu says Uganda's economy needs to grow in double digit in the next three years is the aspiration of reaching a middle-income status is to be attained.
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Vision 2040 identifies tourism as one of the opportunities that should be harnessed to propel Uganda to a middle -income status.
The review conference observed that Uganda's inbound tourism visitors' numbers increased to about 1.3 million but player in the sector said Uganda needed to much more to raise the number or tourists.
Chris Muhango, a tourism marketing expert said much as there was an improvement in tourism arrivals, the tourism promotion, branding and marketing of Uganda's tourism sector remained weak.
He said Uganda under the year in review managed to get about 1.5% increase in the number of tourists v as opposed to the global average of 3 to 5%.
In terms of visitations.
Uganda has plans to increase the number of annual inbound visitors to four million.
One of the major hindrances is that little promotion is going on to advertise the country's tourism potential.