BY JEFF LULE AND INNOCENT ANGUYO
THE Government will work with the Buganda Kingdom to promote domestic tourism, the finance minister Maria Kiwanuka, said on Monday.
Speaking at the opening of the Buganda Tourism Expo at Lubiri in Mengo, Kiwanuka said Uganda was rich in natural and cultural resources that needed to be explored to improve national revenue.
â€œUganda is a nature and heritage-based destination. This is a resource we have in abundance, but is being threatened by erosion and depletion because of competition with other social and economic needs,â€ she said.
She said the Government had re-evaluated the countryâ€™s economic development strategy, changing it to a five-year development plan model under the theme â€œWealth creationâ€.
Kiwanuka said tourism was one of the core sectors that cannot be ignored.
â€œWhy, in spite of all the natural and cultural endowments, have we not fully utilised and benefited from these resources like other countries? How do we bring back the glory of the Pearl of Africa?â€
â€œI fully appreciate the power of marketing as a tool to promote and sell products and services. So we must market Buganda. We must market Uganda,â€ she said.
Kiwanuka said there was need to improve, develop and package the tourism products, noting that the countryâ€™s most essential resources were not easily accessible due to lack of basic facilities like sanitation, informative tour guides and the poor state of many facilities.
The minister explained that most successful tourist destinations benefit from domestic tourism to sustain their operations.
She observed that the various cultural events in the kingdom could be used as a promotional tool to attract visitors in the region.
â€œTourism is an important service industry that requires skilled and experienced personnel,â€ Kiwanuka noted.
She advised Buganda to come up with an investment forum to discuss policies and investment options to promote the industry.
â€œI wish to pledge the Governmentâ€™s support. My office is also open and, I welcome the kingdomâ€™s tourism board to come and we discuss how to enhance tourism with my ministry,â€ Kiwanuka said.
She thanked the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Mutebi II for instituting a full toursim ministry and a special expo to promote the industry.
Products showcased at the expo included handicrafts, wild animals and traditional wear.
The kingdom premier, Eng. J.B Walusimbi, asked civil servants from the kingdom to continue supporting its activities.
â€œYou can serve the two institutions without any problem. Some think that when they go to civil service, they canâ€™t serve the kingdom, which is wrong,â€ he said.
The second deputy kingdom premier, Semambo Sekimpi, said developing tourism was one of the ways through which the Government can fight unemployment and promote culture among the youth.
Meanwhile, handicraft makers have been advised to stop focusing on foreign tourists as the main market for their products, writes PROSSY NANDUDU.
â€œFor long, artists have been targeting mainly the tourists and expatriates, yet there is a huge market in the countryâ€™s public offices.
â€œMost of their walls are bare and could be filled with Ugandan art pieces. In the process, artists will make money locally,â€ Caleb Owino, the Fireworks Advertising Agency, managing director said.
He was speaking ahead of the 3rd annual Fireworks Art Exhibition set for June 30 at the UMA Show Grounds in Lugogo, Kampala.
The expo will bring together artists and the corporate world.
The fair also aims at exposing local artists to the corporate world to market their wares and network.
A total of 23 artists have had an opportunity to sell directly over sh50m worth of art since the exhibition started two years ago.
The fair is supported by Chartis, East African Breweries, Pepsi, Air Uganda and Events Warehouse.
The Chartis boss, Alex Wanjohi, said supporting micro-enterprises like art exhibition could boost art as an industry and also encourage Ugandan youth to engage in meaningful economic activities.
â€œThe issue of promoting Ugandan art is too important to be left to artists alone. We canâ€™t afford to watch artists sell their art pieces to tourists by the roadsides at extreme discounts.
â€œDespite several efforts to promote art and crafts as a business, visual arts have been ignored, taking them as a talent or hobby,â€ added Owino.