It is recommendable that our media has started focusing on and allowing healthy debates on tourism.
For a long time, tourism was never given any attention and if any, it was focused on the negative side and that largely kept the Ugandan population out of trying to tap into the tourism potential that the country has.
Tourism and hospitality are bedfellows, for Uganda both tourism and hospitality are creating more meaningful jobs compared to any sector. The jobs created include: tour guiding, chefs, hotel managers, rangers, reservation officers both in tour companies and hotels, entertainers and many others.
The movement of Ugandans within the country has also created strong employment opportunities in upcountry towns like Mbale, Kabale, Kisoro, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, Mbarara and Kasese.
Ugandans travel for various reasons, including sightseeing, business, weddings and seminars, which factors necessitate accommodation, food and entertainment which in turn empower individuals within those areas visited, thereby, reducing rural urban migration, especially to Kampala, in search of employment.
The NRM manifesto is on tourism and wildlife and acknowledges that Uganda is steadily becoming a leading tourism destination. What is even truer is that the consolidation of peace and security in the country has been the main catalyst.
It adds that tourism is the fastest growing sector in Uganda with an annual growth rate of 21% on average, contributing 24% of the total foreign exchange earnings. It also says domestic tourism has increased by 50% over the last 10 years.
Uganda being only 0.18% of total land mass is probably one of the top 13 countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity. Bio-diversity being the relative abundance flora, fauna and the general ecosystem.
The mountain gorilla population, the source of the longest river on the continent with the most thrilling rafting opportunity on earth, 10.2% of the world’s species of birds, highest density of primates on earth, more in land water bodies as compared to any country on the continent, world’s largest caldera mountains on Mt Elgon, an average of 28% centigrade for weather, diversity in culture etc.
On the way forward, the manifesto mentions sensitization of the population on Uganda’s potential, promoting East Africa as a single tourist destination, supporting the development of human resource, fight human animal conflict by fencing national parks and lastly develop infrastructure especially roads and airfields in tourism areas to enhance easy access and movement of tourists.