EU to Commit Shs60bn to Boost Uganda’s Tourism Sector

EU to Commit Shs60bn to Boost Uganda’s Tourism Sector

The European Union (EU) has announced a substantial commitment of Shs60 billion to support Uganda's tourism sector through financing, visibility enhancement, and fostering local participation in tourism development.

EU Ambassador to Uganda, Jan Sadek, made this declaration during a panel discussion on "Sustainable Financing for Tourism" at the just concludede Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) in Munyonyo, Kampala.

Ambassador Sadek emphasized the importance of marketing Uganda to the world.

"I am happy to learn that the government is committed to marketing Uganda. This is a positive development because most people in my country, Sweden, hardly know about Uganda. They can only mention Idi Amin and know little else,” he stated.

The panel, moderated by Richard Kawere, Principal of the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI), also featured Treasury Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi, who highlighted the government's plans to invest in branding Uganda as a premier tourism destination.

Ggoobi, who also serves as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, outlined the government's policy to support key sectors abbreviated as ATM: Agriculture, Tourism, and Mining.

Ggoobi projected that tourism development could generate $50 billion by 2040, a significant increase from the current $2 billion.

However, he acknowledged existing challenges in the sector, including limited marketing, an inadequately skilled workforce, and poor road infrastructure.

To address these issues, the government is implementing interventions worth $68 million under the Competitive Enterprise Development Project (CEDP). These include upgrading infrastructure and skills at UHTTI in Jinja and the Uganda Wildlife Research Training Institute, as well as enhancing the capacity of the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.

Ggoobi also urged Ugandans to speak positively about their country, stressing that negative perceptions hinder the growth of the tourism sector. “Tourism development is a business for every citizen and also every ministry, department, and agency of government. It cannot be left alone to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB),” he asserted.

Prof. Lawrence Muganga, Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University emphasized the need for innovative marketing strategies.

He cited Victoria University’s organization of a music battle between artists Cinderella Sanyu (Cindy) and Sheebah Karungi, which successfully captured public attention without incurring costs. Prof. Muganga highlighted the importance of such disruptive thinking in promoting tourism.

The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, organized annually by the Uganda Tourism Board, serves as a key platform for tourism and travel trade, bringing together stakeholders for networking and business opportunities.