In 2003, Uganda tourism industry experts came up with the Uganda tourism policy which was meant to help the country grow its tourism industry. Over 10 years down the road, the question is; Has Uganda lived up to the policy? The 2003 Uganda tourism policy had objectives such as:
- Increasing tourist arrivals to Uganda up to at least a million tourists in the next 10 years
- Diversification of tourism – this was aimed at making Uganda Tourism different from that of her neighbors who have a better competitive advantage in terms of wildlife based tourism.
Looking at the above objectives, tourist numbers in Uganda have indeed increases greatly since 2003.
when the policy was made there was need to cultural tourism, agri-tourism and other forms of alternative tourism. Cultural tourism has grown, an example is the Batwa trail south western Uganda- Bwindi impenetrable forest. There are several forms of cultural tourism happening across the country, such as home stays in the Kigezi region.
It is quite obvious that the tourism industry,which is one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners, has grown in the past eleven or so years. Looking at increase in earning from USD 662 million in 2010 to USD 805 million in 2011, the answer to the question just might be a yes.
Uganda might not have hit its 2003 targets squarely on the head, but the growth and progress in the past ten years is commendable.
Of course some skeptics might say otherwise, especially focusing on the objective to increase the number of tourists to one million. Also agri-tourism hasn’t picked up quite well in Uganda. But where there is progress credit should be given where it is due.
The tourism industry in Uganda has contributed greatly to the continuous development of the pearl of Africa. Capitalizing on gorilla trekking as a tourist attraction led to a big leap of growth in earnings from the industry due to the popularity of gorilla tracking safaris among tourists.
Uganda luckily has several attractive sites and activities for tourist on Africa safaris. With several game parks such as Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Kidepo valley national park and many more, there is plenty of wild life to see. There are also amazing birding opportunities for the avid bird watcher. White water rafting, kayaking and other water sports on the Nile river, gorilla trekking, chimpanzee trekking, mountain climbing, cultural tourism, and so much. With all of that and more Uganda will soon achieve all the objectives set out in the 2003 tourism policy. There is still hope.