Uganda Tourism Recognized as Multi-Billion Dollar Economic Driver

image courtesy of T.Ofungi
image courtesy of T.Ofungi

The Government of Uganda has identified tourism as one of 4 anchor sectors to drive the economy to tenfold growth from US$50 billion to US$500 billion by 2040.

Under the acronym ATMS these anchors are: Agro-Industrialization, Tourism Development, Mineral Development (including oil & gas), and Science Technology and Innovation (STI), including ICT.

Themed “Fully monetizing Uganda’s economy through commercial agriculture, industrialization, expanding and broadening services, digital transformation and market access,” the  budget was presented  by the country’s Minister of Finance, the Honorable Matiya Kasaija, in the budget speech for the Financial Year (FY) 2024/2025 at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala on June 13, 2024, chaired by the Rt. Honorable Speaker, Anita Among. The session was attended by His Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, law makers, ministers, and heads of other government agencies and departments.

“These numbers exclude the anticipated oil and gas revenues as well as the planned interventions to grow the economy tenfold,” he said.

As an anchor, the increase in tourism activities shall be supported by investment in tourism infrastructure, branding, and marketing, as well as effective implementation of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) Program.

The Honorable Minister noted that Uganda has increasingly regained its global position among the top 10 best tourism destinations in global tourism rankings. In the year 2023, international tourist arrivals increased by 56 percent to 1.274 million tourists compared to  814,085 arrivals in 2022 and the pre-pandemic peak of 1.52 million in 2019. The international tourism receipts reached US$1.03 billion in 2023.

Since the tourism sector has proven to have a high return on investment, in FY 2024/25, UGX 289.6 billion (US$78 billion) has been allocated to tourism development programs to support international and domestic tourism marketing and promotional activities and to modernize tourism products in order to make them more competitive. These include completion of the pier and related infrastructure at the Source of the Nile; upgrading the Uganda Museum; construction of 8,000 meters of climbing ladders and boardwalks on the Rwenzori Mountains to make hiking safer; to continue with the grading, supervision, and classification of tourism facilities to enhance the quality of services and ensure adherence to the required global standards; and to complete the upgrade of the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) infrastructure in an effort to make it an International Centre of Excellence for training and skills development in tourism and hospitality.

UGX 55 billion (US$14.8 million) has been allocated to Uganda’s Missions Abroad to support the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to market Uganda to potential tourists, to market exports, and to attract more investors.

Conservation

For the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), in order to enhance the conservation of Uganda’s 22 Wildlife Protected Areas with a focus on the mitigation of human wildlife conflicts, the government shall construct an additional 150 kilometers of electric fence and maintain the existing 106-kilometer fence, carry out boundary surveillance through more than 13,904 patrols, uproot invasive species, and construct 4 water dams in protected areas.

An additional UGX 1.629 trillion (US$431 million) has been provided for several critical interventions associated with tourism including support to the Uganda Wildlife Authority and construction of tourism roads. 

AFCON 2027 

Included in the budget is road rehabilitation and upgrades under the Kampala Capital City Authority and support to the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations, also referred to as AFCON 2027, the 36th edition of the biennial African football tournament which the country shall be co-hosting in 2027 and completion of key stadia.

Other areas of support are the strengthening of security, law, and order in the tourism destination and extension of the Internet to tourism destinations.

Aviation Infrastructure

The FY 2023/2024 saw a 90% completion of Kabalega International Airport in Hoima as well as in Western Uganda, 10% comprises critical air navigation, meteorology, communication, and airport operational facilities. UGX  162 billion (USD 43.7 million) has been provided for completion and operationalization of the new  airport.

The expansion and rehabilitation of Entebbe International Airport including the modernization of the departures and arrival areas of the terminal building is also 90% complete.

Funds shall also cover maintenance of 13 aerodromes including Arua, Gulu, Pakuba, Masindi, Lira, Kidepo, Moroto, Soroti, Tororo, Jinja, Mbarara, Kasese, and Kisoro.

Maritime Sector

A Maritime Training Institute has been completed at Namasagali, and along the river Nile, construction works are under way at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) at Mwanza in Tanzania  along with the construction of 2 ferries on Lake Bunyonyi which is currently underway  and will be completed by the next financial year.

Tourism Roads

Government shall commence  the upgrading/construction of tourism roads including Kisoro-Lake Bunyonyi Road and Kisoro-Mt.Mgahinga National Park Headquarters Road, habitat to the endangered mountain gorillas (33.2 kilometers), Kitgum-Kidepo National Park (116 kilometers) – 643 kilometers of roads in total.

Other growth drivers shall include increased oil and gas activities, agro-industrialization and light manufacturing, foreign direct investment, continued investment in industrial parks, construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, rehabilitation of the Metre Gauge Railway and commencement of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), expansion of ICT infrastructure, and provision of reliable and affordable electricity.

To minimize the effects of growth risks, the minister announced that the government is implementing climate change adaptation measures, exploring cheaper sources of financing including climate finance, and ensuring frugality in government expenditure.

To guarantee an enabling environment, the government has committed to strengthening the capacity of security agencies to address emerging security threats and ensuring combat readiness of security agencies to protect life and property.

About the author

Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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