The Minister for Tourism, Prof. Epharaim Kamuntu, has decried poor funding for the ministry. He was on Friday speaking at the commissioning of Igongo Cultural Centre in Biharwe Town Council, Mbarara.
“We are a ministry but we don’t have a budget. Our funding is 0.13 per cent (of the national budget). Yet we contribute 9.2 per cent of the GDP bringing in $662m (about Shs1.7trillion) every year and we employ eight per cent of the labour force,” Mr Kamuntu said.
The cry comes during a holiday season where tourism is expected to be at its peak. However, only a handful of Ugandans are heading to the tourists destinations.
Development of the sector is further hampered by poor infrastructure and limited marketing. Prof. Kamuntu said he had already written to the President over the underfunding which he attributed to the fact that the ministry was created after the budget process.
The ministry (Tourism wildlife and Heritage) was created from Tourism Trade and Industry five months back.
Despite all the challenges, Uganda was last month voted by the Lonely planet, as the number one tourism destination to visit in 2012.
Also Bwindi Impenetrable National park was early this year voted Africa’s number one birding site ahead of South Africa’s renowned Kruger National Park and Cape Town’s ocean shores.
Igongo Cultural Centre is the first private museum in Uganda. Built a year back, the museum, which portrays culture of Ankole and Kigezi, has become a major tourist destination for local and foreign tourists.
President Yoweri Museveni who was the chief guest at the commissioning thanked Mr James Tumusiime, the proprietor, for reviving the African culture.
“Ankole and Kigezi cultures are a bloc of African culture, Mr Tumusiime is reviving the African culture,” Mr Museveni said.
Mr Museveni urged culturalists not to promote cultural superiority of a tribe or society against another.
“Learn those good cultural values from other societies and people, integrate and copy them into yours,” he said.
Mr Museveni blamed Africans for copying everything from whites even those aspects that are not important.
He said African languages are more superior than English and should be promoted.