Uganda developing new tourism products

GOULF COURSE HOTEL, 16th NOVEMBER 2016: Uganda could soon increase its offering in the tourism menu and increase its attractiveness to tourists if projects worth UGX 231 Million get funding and are implemented. Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Tourism Association last week validated the five potential tourist attraction projects, which include the following: Namugongo Shrine son et lumiere; Uganda National Museum Indigenous dinner; Uganda Rwenzori Cultural Trail; and Interpretation Capacity Building for Birding.

Over the last decade, Uganda Tourism industry has grown fivefold, emerging as a major source of economic growth, employment and revenue for the country. The sector’s total contribution to GDP in 2015 was 9.9% (UGX 6,395.4 billion)  compared to 7.9% (UGX 5,495.0 billion)  in 2013 and 8.8% in 2012 (UGX 4,993.6 billion). Receipts from tourism have also increased from USD 449 million in 2007 to about USD 1.048billion in 2014. Tourist arrivals have also significantly grown from 641,743 in 2007 to 1,266,040 in 2014. The Government of Uganda has in its Vision 2040 recognized tourism as the mainstay of the economy contributing highest in foreign exchange earnings (at least $12 billion annually), tax and non-tax revenue, employment and to GDP as a whole. It believes that tourism can contribute to the transformation of Uganda from a predominantly peasant and low-income society to a modern, prosperous and competitive upper middle-income country.

Uganda has also received several accolades with the most recent one awarded by CNN, which touted it as one of the top 16 destinations to visit in 2016.  This underscores tourism ability to provide revenue and countless jobs for Uganda, with a unique ability to create employment for communities and especially women and youth while protecting heritage and cultural values.

Tourism product development in Uganda faces challenges including but not limited to: overreliance on wildlife products, limited access routes, inadequate MICE venues, exclusionism policy, unplanned development, untapped tourism potentials, limited skills in tourism product innovation and creativity and competing economic interest. It is time to diversify and strengthen the product mix.

The Uganda Tourism Association and Uganda Tourism Board are implementing UGX 1,108,800,000 Uganda Tourism Export Capability project supported by TradeMark Africa (TMA) focusing on: Enhanced Tourism Institutional Capacity and Sustainability through building national tourist apex associations; Encouraging private public dialogue; improved competitiveness and marketability of Uganda Tourism Products.

Speaking at the validation workshop, Mr. Bonifence Byamukama President of Uganda Tourism Association highlighted that “As a landlocked Country, TradeMark Africa identified Uganda as one of the countries to benefit from export capability specifically for tourism. Uganda should take advantage of these new tourism products and market them. Currently, in the source markets, people are asking what new products Uganda has to offer. This is our opportunity to showcase and promote what we have. We encourage sector players to fast-track some of these engagements we are doing.”   

The Chief Executive Officer, Uganda Tourism Board Mr. Stephen Asiimwe thanked TradeMark Africa for supporting tourism in Uganda. With support from TradeMark Africa, Uganda Tourism Board partnered with Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) to boost tourism competitiveness in Uganda. Tourism has emerged as Uganda’s number 1 foreign exchange earner. We contribute to 10% of GDP. Tourism is a trade in services. We are at 23% of export revenues.  Tourism has been growing at more than 5% per year. In terms of investment, growth in tourism from a services sector is one of the fastest growing. His Excellence, the President of Uganda, recently met with sector players and emphasized tourism as one of the 4 pillars of economic development. He highlighted the need to get the youth in meaningful employment in key sectors like tourism. Uganda needs to invest in good tourism products that add value, bring revenues and create viable investment.  With potential for 100,000 visitors spending $250 a night for 10 days pilgrimage trek, Uganda could earn $250 million a year. Focusing on visitor’s stay and visitors spend will translate in increased visitor volumes and value to the economy”.   

Wanjiku Kimamo, Senior Programme Manager, TradeMark Africa informed the meeting “TradeMark Africa’s Mandate is to increase trade for prosperity in the EAC region. TradeMark Africa is looking to increase export capability of East African Countries. With focus on landlocked countries, TradeMark Africa identified tourism as one of the priority sectors because of strong participation of enterprises and people at the bottom of the pyramid, opportunities to create jobs and increase incomes and contribution to national economies. As TradeMark Africa finalizes her strategy 1 (2010 – 2016) TMA has continued to priorities the tourism sector and will build on gains achieved during this period to inform the design of our work in this industry in strategy 2 (2018 – 2023).


TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.