On 2nd April 2015, NatureUganda organized a public talk held at the Uganda Museum on “Tourism for ecological, social and economic transformation; Uganda’s experience”.
The theme of the National Development Plan 2010-2014 was GROWTH, EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION FOR PROSPERITY.
The plan envisioned accelerated socioeconomic transformation for prosperity in order to create employment, raise per capita income levels, improve labour force distribution and improve the country’s competitiveness to levels associated with middle income countries.
Tourism was identified as one of the primary growth sectors where specific tourism infrastructures were planned for development to promote tourism in the country. The Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board, Mr Stephen Asiimwe shed light on the developments in the tourism sector and its place as a primary sector for the growth and economic transformation of Uganda.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Mr Achilles Byaruhanga reminded all that the speaker will be enlighting us on how Tourism benefits us ecologically, socially and economically.” The chairman, NatureUganda who was also the chairperson of this dialogue, Mr Paul Mafabi mentioned that nature provides multiple benefits to people and one of these is tourism.
The guest speaker, Mr Asiimwe gave a background of the tourism sector in Uganda mentioning that it has come a long way. “The history of Uganda is the history of Tourism in Uganda”, he said.” He further highlighted that between 2006 to date, Uganda has had one of the fastest growing tourism industries in the world. He pointed out that Uganda has a good security system now, the tourism police unit which was set up to ensure safety and security of tourists was a good initiative since peace is one of the most important factors of tourism.
Tourism is everybody’s business since it highly depends on the health of our environment and lifestyle and has a great impact on our economy. Good biodiversity management is good business for tourism companies. Through contributing to the conservation of biodiversity, tourism companies can improve the quality of the service or product provided and increase their income.
He further mentioned that UTB is working closely with the private sector, such as, tour companies, hotels and other service providers to enforce standards and ensure best practices. He added that Uganda needs to work towards getting its own airlines if it’s to make a great impact in Tourism based on its competitive nature.
Mr Asiimwe further noted that the importance of research in tourism cannot be overstated. Data from research provides a firm foundation from which important joint decisions on the future sustainable development of tourism in this region can be made. He said that UTB is partnering with other institutions like NatureUganda, Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA) and Uganda Tourism Association among other for product diversification and uniqueness.
He urged all Ugandans to start taking time off, leave our homes and explore the beautiful places this country is endowed with. He also noted that as a country we must go and tell our story about the diversity of this very beautiful country.