WORLD TOURISM DAY 2021 - STATEMENT BY THE HON. MINISTER OF TOURISM WILDLIFE AND ANTIQUITIES

September 1, 2021. Kampala Uganda

It is a great pleasure and honour to have your presence at this briefing and I thank you for promoting the tourism sector. Uganda will join the rest of the world to celebrate the World Tourism Day on the 27th September under the theme Tourism for inclusive growth”.

This theme underscores the potential of tourism in promoting opportunities for communities around the world, as well as the role that community engagement has in advancing sustainable tourism development.

We celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day in very unprecedented times, amidst a pandemic that is raging in its second year and has caused a lot of damage to the tourism industry. The impact has manifested in multiple lockdowns, travel restrictions, increased morbidity and loss of life. These conditions have led to loss of revenue, jobs and threatened the survival of the industry.

This year’s theme is ideally timed to contribute to the debate on tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which places a high priority on local participation. Indeed, the recovery of the social economic fabric of many countries will depend on the role of tourism to breathe life in the local communities by distributing the much-needed income and social engagement.

Even before the pandemic, the industry grappled with the question of equitable growth as the value of the tourism dollar was not trickling down the pyramid in a fair and proportionate way. The policy direction of the Ministry and government is to promote this equitability and contribute to a balanced growth of the communities.

 Tourism can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance. At the same time, there can be no real tourism development if such development damages the values and culture of host communities or if the socio-economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level. With this in perspective, government is implementing several initiatives with host communities aimed at ensuring that more benefits accrue to them. Such initiatives include the Handicraft and Souvenirs Project whose objectives target to benefit the youth, women and other vulnerable groups within the host communities.

The Ministry has also embarked on training of Local Government Authorities and grass root private sector players   within the host communities.  We have had engagements with stakeholders in all regions and emphasized the need for development and promotion of tourism with involvement of all stakeholders along the value chain and equipped the participants with pre-requisite skill to manage and regulate the sector as well as arm them with business skills and product development knowledge. The Rolex Initiative Project for youth has benefited from this.

The tourism sector has encountered major disruptions and loss since the pandemic began, to place it in perspective, prior the pandemic in 2019, Uganda welcomed over 1.5million Visitors and received US$1.6 Billion in tourist revenue, this was cut to one third in the following year and the prospects of 2021 are equally bleak.  The impact of these disruption on the industry investment, private sector enterprise and our conservation efforts is significant and requires support.

Government has responded pro-actively in mitigating the spread and protecting the people through massive vaccination programmes and treatment. The Ministry has also designed and disseminated sector specific SOPS within the industry to ensure safety of both the host communities and tourists. Tour Maps and Tourism Services Directories have been produced for the promotion of  Domestic and regional tourism as a means revive the industry and ensuring Rural Community products are consumed.

We urge the people to comply with the established SOPs and guidance by the health authorities as we navigate these turbulent times. There is hope that the world will overcome the pandemic but let’s be vigilant and not lose focus on the other equally devastating challenges that could impede growth.

The World Tourism Day will be marked in compliance with the current protocols and will be a hybrid event with limited physical participation. In line with the theme of the event, the objectives of marking the day will be

  • To reflect and create awareness on the importance of tourism to the social economic development of Uganda.
  • To highlight the important contribution of domestic tourism to economic development.
  • To create awareness on the strategies taken by government to mitigate the COVID pandemic and the opportunities that tourism presents for enterprise and job creation.

In this respect, an e conference will be organized to explore the theme on the 27th September 2021. During the month of September, a number of media engagements and digital activities have been lined up to further create awareness on the objectives of marking the day. The conference will cover key topical issues in line with this year’s theme. These include equitability, tourism accessibility, financial accessibility, technology and innovations and greening the tourism industry.

I urge fellow Ugandans to actively participate in the debate of making tourism work for inclusive growth, visit the attractions and engage in responsible tourism especially during this time of the pandemic.

The sector is cognizant of the changing landscape of tourism growth and competitiveness and will focus on product development and enhancing the quality of service as we prepare for the better times ahead. The sector is aggressively marketing the destination with a message of reassurance and readiness to receive foreign tourists when they are ready to travel.

I thank you all and urge you to love and promote Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.