Parliament's budget committee has in its report asked the government to allocate more funding to the Tourism sector which is the most underfunded sector with a total budget of only sh32b.
The budget committee report was passed by parliament and it is expected to guide the government is coming up with the revised budget estimates.
The committee noted with concern that Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), which is mandated with promoting Uganda’s tourism locally and internationally, has been allocated only sh17b.
Whereas Kenya allocates over $30m (sh114b) towards marketing her tourism internationally and Rwanda spends over $40m (sh152b), Uganda only spends only sh10b ($2.6m) to market her tourism.
“One of the key strategic interventions for the 2019/20 financial year is to improve tourism marketing and promotion in order to increase the visibility of Uganda as a tourist destination. However, the budget allocation of sh17.2b which was allocated to UTB in 2018/2019 to has been maintained in the 2019/2020 financial year,” the committee stated.
The committee also recommended the need to have UTB revamped as an institution because the entity spent only 49.2% of the meagre resources it was allocated in the 2017/2018 financial year.
To develop the tourism sector further, parliament has asked the government to secure funding for developing regional airports for the country to attract high tourists.
The regional airports parliament wants the government to develop include Arua, Kasese, Kidepo, Kisoro, Pakuba, and Tororo.
“Growth in Tourism in Uganda will remain a good dream for as long as these airports have not been developed,” Lugoloobi stated while reading the report.
The committee recommended a phased financing model particularly through external borrowing to have the regional airports developed.
“It is these regional airports that will help Uganda attract quality tourists, ease movement in the country and promote the EAC tourism circuit,” Lugoloobi explained.
The committee further argued that developing regional airports would also create a strong foundation for the national airlines that is being revived to leverage its operations.
Parliament through the budget committee report also raised concern that the government had not prioritized tourism roads to be among the roads to be constructed in the financial year.
“The committee strongly recommends that in determining the roads for tarmacking, the roads to tourism sites should be given first priority. Parliament should direct the minister for works and transport to develop an implementation plan for this purpose,” the budget committee proposed.
Toroma County MP said since Uganda has often times been ranked a top tourism destination by many international agencies due to her exceptional natural endowments, the country can earn a lot of foreign exchange from the tourism if more resources are invested in the sector.
Various international agencies including Lonely Planet, CNN, and Rough Guides have ranked Uganda in the list of the world’s top five tourism destinations.
Emphasizing the need to have all roads to tourism sites tarmacked, Bunyaruguru MP John Twesigye Ntamuhira recounted an incident when he found a truck carrying foreign tourists stuck on a road which was in a very poor state.