It is barely three months since Uganda experienced adverse effects of Europe’s snow-induced air traffic that snarled to spoil a key tourism season for East Africa, where hundreds of thousands traditionally flock for the festive season. But as the country goes to the polls in view of the previous tensions in Tunisia and Egypt that led to ousting of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak respectively, the tourism sector is optimistic that it would return to its path.
Mr Cuthbert Baguma, the executive director Uganda Tourism Board, said that the country is still experiencing an influx of tourists irrespective of elections because it has not been negatively depicted on the international media since the onset of campaigns.
“Apparently everything is going on normally, we have not received cases of travel cancellation,” Mr Baguma said adding that the tourism sector is optimistic that a high number of tourists will be recorded after the ongoing general elections.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Mr Ignie Igunbuura said planes are entering and leaving the country normally.
The Uganda’s tourism sector contributes 8 per cent of Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product and is seen as one of the sectors with the most promising growth prospects; and government has often kept it on the back burner in its budgeting processes.
The earnings from Uganda’s Tourism sector has been increasing over the past years, from $165.3m in 2001 to over $600m by 2009, making the industry a robust source of foreign exchange, according to Uganda Tourism Board UTB statistics.
This follows the growth of visitors from 205,287 to 817,000 over the past 10 years. The board points to relative peace, aggressive marketing through promotions and trade fairs as the reasons for the increased visitations.
At 51,812 visitors, the UK emerged the top Western country sending tourists to Uganda, followed by the US (42,418), while Sweden sent the least visitors (4,575).
India brought in (16,238), Canada (9,186), Germany (8, 083), Netherlands (7,136), China (6,088), Australia (5,342) and Italy (5,063).
In Africa, Kenya’s 249,786 was the continent’s biggest number, followed by Rwanda (181,339) while Somalia’s 5,096 visitors was the least.
Other Countries include; Tanzania sent 45,278 visitors, Burundi (38,177), Democratic Republic of Congo (25,774), South Africa (18,275), Sudan (16,169), DR Congo (12,495) and Ethiopia (5,096). UTB says tourists usually enter the country to experience culture, visit national parks, and do all sorts of unique activities on offer.
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