By Emma Nahayo Mugizi
Usually when a topic is trending, people come up with theories about it. Sadly, many of these strongly expressed opinions result from a limited understanding of the facts.
In Uganda, the bustling sector of Oil and Gas was among the latest to be debated and discussed. Now, it would seem, all eyes are turned on tourism.
Everybody wants to have a say as to how the tourism sector in Uganda should be governed; how the private sector comes in, the role of the Government, et cetera. The latest of these theories, as reported in New Vision a few days ago, is the passionate call from the Civil Society to “merge the Ministry of Tourism with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)”. The reason for the proposed merger is the apparent “duplication of roles”.
From the story, it was evident that the person who proposed the merger did not fully comprehend the mandate of the various players within Uganda’s tourism sector.
No one from the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group came to the Ministry of Tourism to inquire about and understand the roles of the Ministry vis-à-vis those of UWA and UTB. How then could they conclude that roles were being duplicated?
The Ministry of Tourism oversees and/or governs six (6) agencies: UWA, UTB, the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) in Jinja, the Uganda Wildlife Training Institute (UWTI) in Kasese, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe and the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) on Ngamba Island, Entebbe. Each of these agencies has a clear management structure with defined roles.
Within the Ministry of Tourism itself, are four departments: Wildlife Conservation, Tourism Development, Finance and Administration, and Museums and Monuments, all with specific roles. Each of the six agencies is “attached” to a specific department within the Ministry: Wildlife Conservation manages issues to do with UWA, UWEC, UWTI and CSWCT, and Tourism Development manages matters pertaining to UTB and HTTI.
The Ministry of Tourism is a steadily growing, fully-fledged Ministry with the significant, delicate task of formulating and implementing policies, strategies, plans and programmes that promote tourism, wildlife and cultural heritage conservation for socio-economic development and transformation of Uganda.
That is our mandate. Significant: because as we speak, the tourism industry is among Uganda’s top three revenue earners. Tourism’s total contribution to the economy in 2012 is estimated at US$1,920m, representing 8.8% of Uganda’s GDP. Delicate: because one false step could damage this industry which relies heavily on conservation and country image.
To emphasise, there is no duplication of roles, and the Civil Society and all Ugandans are urged to fully understand the functions of the various tourism sector agencies and the line Ministry. This information is available on the Ministry and agency websites, and we are here to answer any queries relating to roles and mandate.
The Civil Society voice is a respected one, and it would not do for such an esteemed group to address the country without sufficient accurate information.
The writer is the public relations officer with the ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities