By Stephen Wandera
KAMPALA, Uganda government has engaged an Australian firm to invest in cable cars to boost tourism in Rwenzori region. According to Tourism Minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu the cars are urgently needed to unlock Uganda’s tourism potential.
“It takes seven days to climb Rwenzori Mountain, when we bring in these cars, it will take one hours to climb the mountains for a tour,” he said with identify the firm.
What I can confirm to you is that before the end of this year we will have got an investor in cable cars, said Prof. Kamuntu at the 9th annual tourism sector review conference at Hotel Africana Friday November 9, 2018.
Mt. Rwenzori has ice at the top, a tourist attraction but it melting out due to climate change. It is also a habitant for Gorilla Mountains, the leading tourist attraction to the country.
Prof Kamuntu said the number of foreign tourists has increased from 1.4 million to 1.62 million over the last one year.
He justified the review as an opportunity to the sector stakeholders to discuss performance and guide on the direction that should be taken.
“As one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, the tourism sector outstandingly creates jobs, drives exports, and generates prosperity. Uganda has seen a steady growth in tourism in terms of tourist arrivals, foreign exchange earnings and tourism contribution to Gross Domestic Product. The sector accounted for 7.3 percent of GDP, foreign exchange earnings worth USD 1.45 billion and more than 600,000 jobs in 2017.”
United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) told government to raise its target of attracting tourists as a means to generate more foreign exchange for economic development. According Ms Rose Malango, the resident representative, UNDP, more investment is need to the sector to achieve the desired national development plans.
“Engage airlines with flights coming to Uganda by playing two minutes video about Uganda tourists’ destinations. When I visit Dubai, you find videos being played about the tourists, why not do it here. We should look at increasing target of tourists to 10 million by 2030,” she said.
Uganda should also the think of establish a national heritage day for families visit cultural sites to boost domestic tourism, Ms Malango noted.
She further explained, “a Uganda’ culture is blessed by clans attached to particular animals and birds. This is a clear sign that locals value wild life which should be hornets”
However Mr Amos Wekesa, the chief executive officer, African Great Safaris down played the numbers are too small to celebrate.
“In Kenya Jomo Kenyatta International Airport alone handles 8 million tourists, Mombasa does 6 million, Cape Town does 22 million. We should be ashamed of these numbers. We should do more marketing and funding to the tourism sector,” he said. Adding, “Government officials should stop wearing suits when travelling abroad but instead wear Uganda branded T-shirts. Tulambule is a great idea but poorly executed, it should be consistent. Not today you are launching chapatti the other day you are on another.”