“Talk properly, look for people who can add value on what you are doing. Harmonize!” President Yoweri Museveni tells officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the Uganda Tourism Board and Tourism Sector Stakeholders who met him this afternoon at State House in Entebbe.
The President who was meeting the officials over several contentious issues including government handling of investment in marketing tourism, which markets to focus on, marketing initiatives, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo brand and the Dubai expo, skilling and capacity building and conservation initiatives, agreed to a request by tour Operators for him to visit one of the National parks as part of government efforts to promote tourism.
The Private Tour Operators also want inclusion on the Board of Uganda Airlines, Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Investment Authority, Export Promotions Board and the Petroleum Authority among others.
“The Ministry should work with the Private Tour Operators and harmonize. You all have good ideas look at all of them. Involve all stakeholders. If they want to be included on the Boards, there is no problem with that,” he said.
The meeting was attended among others, by State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the Permanent Secretary Doreen Katusiime, former Minister of Lands and Housing who is now Chairman UTB Daudi Migereko, UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova and the leadership of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) and that of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO)
Tourism is Uganda’s biggest export, contributing US$1.6billion to Uganda’s GDP and accounts for over 660,000 jobs as of 2019. The sector was however seriously affected by the COVID19 pandemic with the airport closure and lockdown.
Civy Tumusiime of Acacia Safaris, the Board Chair of the Association of Tour Operators urged the President to intervene on communities living in the National parks including fishermen, pastoralists and agriculturalists who are in constant conflict with wildlife.
Tumusiime called for an aggressive marketing strategy and proper coordination and strengthening of the private sector.
She later requested the President to meet and address the private sectors players in the industry with over 3800 hotels, 600 tour operators and over 700 tour guides most of whom are young people, a requested he granted with a visit to one of the parks post COVID-19.
The President also directed that the stakeholders meet and come up with an agreed position in three weeks’ time ahead of another meeting.