This is the best year for Uganda’s tourism – govt

Nebert Rugadya

Uganda surpasses its tourism targets of 1.6 million visitors for the year as it declares 2018 the best tourism year ever.

The tourism sector took advantage of the recent global rankings of Uganda among the best tourism destinations, to do aggressive marketing, and it seems to be paying off.

In 2016, the country counted 1.3 million tourists and 1.4 million in 2017, and based on these numbers, it set a target of 1.65 million visitors in 2018.

Sector stakeholders say the previously low figures were due to poor marketing and poor facilities, to the benefit of Kenya and Tanzania.

The Deputy Chief Executive of the Uganda Tourism Board John Sempebwa says they’ve hit this year’s target even before the year ends, since they have already seen an increase of 300,000 visitors more.

This has ecceeded the 250,000 figure that had been forecast for the whole year.

Previous efforts to improve the figures were hampered by poor marketing and low standards of facilities, according to Susan Muhwezi, the chairperson of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association.

Now one of the major tourist attractions is the Ssese Islands, but demand for ferry transport and hotel accommodation facilities is on the increase.

A pioneer investor there, Ssese Islands Beach Hotel co-owner Joyce Kikomeko says for example, they are already fully booked for festive season

Meanwhile, the sector is upbeat over the festive season. For safety, the Tourism Police is at hand, as the commandant, Commissioner of Police Frank Mwesigwa explains.

As the sector grows, State Minister Godfrey Kiwanda is rooting for local tourism, to interest all Ugandans into marketing to the world, what they already know well and appreciate.

As it looks, Tourism is on the way to propelling the country into a high economy and modern country.