The ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities would like to respond to a story that ran in The Observer of October 8-9, 2012, entitled Battle for tourism sector: Presto wants UTB scrapped
The story carried misinformation and distortion of facts aimed at confusing the stakeholders in the tourism sector. In it, Mr Dhizaala, a project planner with the National Planning Authority, is said to have made the following statements: “Our benefits from the ministry of Tourism, [Wildlife and Heritage], UTB and all other stakeholders are below expectations.”
And that “UTB is meant to be disbanded because according to the 10-year tourism master plan of 1992, which created UTB, UWA and UWEC, UTB was supposed to be a temporary institution meant to be turned into an Authority – the Uganda Tourism Authority.
UTB is supposed to be scrapped and establish UTA, and just have a minister in charge of UTA. Not a ministry with a full structure with commissioners, directors,” Dhizaala says, adding: “Without UTA, that tourism sector will never develop because everyone is on their own.”
While the ministry cannot confirm that Dhizaala made the statements, the misinformation the statements contained cannot go unchallenged. The ministry, therefore wishes to clarify as follows:
That contrary to the false statements carried in the story, the tourism sector was returned to the development path by the established institutions of government in partnership with the private sector.
(a) Foreign exchange earnings from the sector have been steadily growing, rising from $662m in 2010 to $805m in 2011. The tourism sector is now Uganda’s second foreign exchange earner, after foreign remittances.
(b) Tourist arrivals have been steadily growing, rising from 468,000 visitors to 1,151,000 visitors in 2011.
(c) The international rating of Uganda has been improving tremendously, with Uganda winning various accolades in recognition of the good effort government has put in place to develop the tourism sector.
(i) Uganda’s tourism sector has just been rated the fastest growing tourism sector in Africa.
(ii) Lonely Planet, the world’s leading travel magazine, ranked Uganda the “World’s number one tourism destination for 2012.”
(iii) Mt Rwenzori was voted among the top hiking places in Africa and among the top 15 hiking spots in the world.
(iv) Virunga volcanoes in south-western Uganda, was voted “a must-see place for 2012” among the 12 places one has to visit in their lifetime.
(v) Bwindi Impenetrable national park was voted Africa’s number one birding site by the African Bird Club, ahead of South Africa’s Kruger national park and Cape Town’s ocean shores.
(vi) Uganda emerged third best exhibitor on the African continent at the ITB Berlin 2012, and was honoured with a certificate and trophy of third best exhibitor in category ‘Africa’ by the Cologne Business School Best Exhibitor Award, ahead of Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, and South Africa.
All these have come as a result of concerted efforts by stakeholders in the tourism industry; therefore, for anybody to state that the sector is underperforming would not only be a deliberate effort to undermine the sector, but also a clear manifestation of complete lack of knowledge about the sector.
It is not true that the Tourism Master Plan of 1992 created any of the mentioned institutions (UWA, UWEC or UTB). UWA was established by the Uganda Wildlife Act, 1996 Cap 200; UWEC was created by Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Trust Deed of 1994 while UTB was created by Uganda Tourism Act of 2008. It is, therefore, not true to assert that the intention of creating UTB was temporary since it was established by an act of Parliament.
The ministry is neither aware of Uganda Tourism Authority referred to in the story nor is it aware that there can be a single ministry without structures. Government sectors operate through ministries, departments and agencies, a framework commonly referred to as MDAs.
It is against this backdrop that H. E. the President, through his visionary leadership, created the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to further catalyze the tourism growth in Uganda, a responsibility that the ministry has handled diligently and the fruits are visible for anybody to see.
The ministry wishes to advise anybody who wishes to write about tourism to seek the right information or clarification from the relevant established institutions so that the tourism stakeholders can get accurate, correct and reliable information.