Tourism emerged top foreign exchange earner for Uganda in the last financial year.
According to the 7th Annual Tourism Sector Performance Report, Uganda earned foreign exchange of $1.35 billion from tourism in financial year 2015/2016.
Remittances from abroad came second with $1.1 billion while long time traditional export, Coffee earned Uganda’s exchequer $400 million.
The report indicates that tourist arrivals grew from 1.15 million in 2011 to 1.7 million last year with 29 per cent visitors coming from overseas markets while the rest from Africa continent.
According to the latest report, employment from tourism increased by 1.7 per cent with more than a million people directly or indirectly benefiting from jobs.
Hotel occupancy rate for 2015/2016 stood at 47.6 per cent for bed while room occupancy at 46.2 per cent.
Tour operator business grew by 23 per cent in 2015/2016 with foreign clientele at 98.87 per cent while the rest being domestic tourists.
Uganda Tourism Board, Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Asiimwe, attributed the growth to increased interest from tourists for the East African country’s tourist attractions.
Mr Asiimwe says in the financial year 2015/2016, the Tourism sector received $1.3 million for marketing while it borrowed more than $1.5 million from the World Bank.
He added that for Uganda Tourism Board to promote tourism effectively in overseas markets in order to attract more holidaymakers, the marketing agency requires 10 times of the allocation of $1.3 million.
“Many tourists are coming for leisure, but the rise is also a result of increased investments. The Government has invested in infrastructure whereas private sector has put up more hotels,” he said.
Tourism sector budget increased from Ush13.9 billion in the financial year 2012/2013 to Ush31.5 billion, accounting for 0.2% of Uganda’s national budget last year.
This was the highest share the sector ever received largely because of the one-off Ush5 billion allocated to the Ministry of Tourism to rehabilitate Namugongo Martyrs Shrine.