Uganda, National Workshop on Tourism Policy, June 2013
Government officials and tourism stakeholders in Uganda met in Kampala in June 2013 for a national workshop on Tourism Policy which has been formulated by UNWTO. Over the past year, UNWTO has partnered with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of Uganda and UNDP on a project to review and re-formulate Uganda’s national tourism policy. Tourism is a priority sector for Uganda that was highlighted in the Government’s National Development Plan as a sector with the potential to contribute significantly to socio-economic development, create sustainable livelihoods and help protect the country’s rich natural resources and cultural heritage.
The first phase of the project focused on a review of existing policies and preparation of a new policy framework that would support the long-term development of tourism in Uganda. The new Tourism Policy aims to provide overall strategic guidance for the Government and a vision for the future direction of the country’s tourism sector. The review identified several key challenges and barriers for the tourism sector, as well as the opportunities and strategic priorities that are central to unlocking Uganda’s strong potential as a tourism destination. The long-term vision for tourism in Uganda sets out a number of central objectives up to 2024: The country’s tourism sector will be based on offering a broad range of tourism products and services that are grounded in the country’s wealth of natural assets and cultural heritage; and, while tourism is already an important contributor to the economy, the policy envisions tourism to be a major source of revenue and employment for the country through investment in infrastructure, product and service development. The ultimate objective is for Uganda to be firmly established as one of Africa’s primary tourism destinations, drawing visitors from established and emerging markets.
The new Tourism Policy was officially presented at the national workshop, and was attended by 75 participants from across government, the private sector and stakeholders from a number of provinces. During the course of the workshop, the major elements of the new policy were presented, including the main outcomes of the review and the policy measures that have been devised to address the current and future challenges. These included the need for stronger institutional management and a regulatory framework for the tourism sector, strategic considerations for the development of new products, natural resource management, tourism infrastructure demand and international marketing and promotion. The workshop was highly interactive and heard the contributions of participants on their views on the Tourism Policy, many of whom expressed their desire to play a role in its implementation. This included calls for more decentralisation at the district level and greater focus on sensitising local communities on the role of tourism. Dr. Harsh Varma, Director, UNWTO Technical Cooperation and Services, appreciated the participation of major stakeholders in the workshop and said, ”the high level participation and productive contributions of participants at the workshop provide tangible evidence of the level of interest that the stakeholders have in the tourism sector of the country. There is no doubt that both public and private sectors would play an active role in the implementation of the policy as well as the recommendations of the Tourism Master Plan”.
The workshop endorsed the National Tourism Policy and called upon UNWTO to embark on the Tourism Master Plan project. At a meeting with the UNWTO team, Hon. Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of Uganda, said ”the National Tourism Policy and the Tourism Development Master Plan would ensure long-term sustainable development of the sector in the country. We hope that with institutional reorganization, development of new tourism zones, product diversification, and pragmatic marketing and promotion strategies, tourism would become a major player in Uganda’s economy”. UNWTO has since commenced activities for the development of the Master Plan and a full team of multi-disciplinary experts has been deployed.