Uganda is a landlocked country located in the East African region and a member to the five state communities that make up the region. Uganda is bordered by Kenya in the East, Tanzania in the south, Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Rwanda in the South West and South Sudan in the North.
Strength of Uganda Tourism
It lies within the Nile basin and has a varied climate but generally modified equatorial climate and is endowed with natural beauty. The tourism industry of Uganda is generally nature based, hinged majorly on abundant wildlife found in the 10 national parks, and 13 game reserves both forest and savanna park which give a chance to interact and encounter wildlife, Landscapes, and Birdlife.
Uganda is also blessed with unique water masses like River Nile which is one of Africa’s natural wonders and arguably the world’s longest river, L. Victoria which doubles as the source of River Nile and biggest fresh water body in Africa and Lake Bunyonyi which is believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa.
Uganda has got over 1078 bird species making it a haven for 50 % of Africa’s bird species and an ideal place for birding trips. The country also boasts half of the endangered mountain gorilla population in the whole world, which gives the best of gorilla tracking experience.
State of Uganda Tourism
Tourism is the fastest growing and driving sector in influencing economic growth and is the leading foreign exchange earner for the country, generating US$1.37 billion forex in 2016 up from US$ 1085 million in 2013.
In 2006, Uganda recorded 1.323 million tourist arrivals with an annual growth rate of 9.9% and visitation to national parks grew by 16.3% in 2017 to reach 285,671 tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities remains the implementing body, while Uganda Tourism Board is responsible for promoting and marketing the country’s tourism and Uganda Wildlife Authority is responsible for management of wildlife and all protected areas.
Challenges to Uganda Tourism
Though the tourism industry in Uganda is steadily improving, many forecasts made and expectations from it are very high, the industry is still facing challenges, which include;-
Inadequate funding of the sector: In general, there is limited funding of the tourism sector basically the marketing factor which is of high importance but lowly performed, this is key to attracting more tourists to visit Uganda.
Poaching: This is an illegal act of hunting wild animals in the national parks and game reserves, which ideally leads to their extinction. This is a great setback to Uganda’s tourism.
Shortage of trained and skilled personnel: Most of the employees within the sector don’t have the product knowledge of tourism aspects and they lack skills about how to protect and conserve the wildlife, and actually market the destination.
The overgrowing population within the surroundings of national parks is another threat to the animals since this leads to increased encroachment on the wildlife conservation land.
Unfavorable government policies on the laws that regulate tourism such as taxes; which include hotel tax and many others, the ever-changing dollar rates, improper management, low developed infrastructure and so many others greatly contributed to drop back of Uganda’s tourism sector.
What Should be Done to Promote Tourism
However, to retrieve from the above challenges, increasing funds that are given to the governing authorities such as UWA should be looked at by the government. The government of Uganda and the responsible bodies should re-think and implement the strategies that help to improve on the sector such as product development and marketing strategies.
More emphasis should also be focused on species introduction and re-introduction to areas where they have never been and those that got extinct for example, re-introducing rhinos in Kidepo valley national park. This will improve the attractiveness of the parks to travelers seeking Uganda safaris in the remote wild areas of the country.
Construction of more international airports near the various national park so as to beat the spatial time taken by travelers to reach far destinations such as Bwindi Impenetrable and Kidepo valley national parks.
Infrastructure development, notably the tourism roads that link to key destinations. These roads tend to become almost impassable, especially during rainy seasons, and so improving them can provide the easiest way to access these destinations.