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Government Strengthens Local Engagements to Boost tourism Ahead of World Tourism Celebrations.

Written by on September 2, 2021

In spite of the ruinous effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the tourism industry, the sector has embarked on inclusiveness of host communities to patch up major loopholes against sector progress.

As a matter of fact, Tourism can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance.

While speaking to the press recently, the Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Tom Butime noted that the Tourism industry cannot develop if the socio-economic benefits generated by the tourism sector do not trickle down to the community level.

With this in perspective, the Government is implementing several initiatives with host communities aimed at ensuring that more benefits accrue to them and their values and culture are developed.

Butime said that such initiatives include among others the Handicraft and Souvenirs Project whose objectives target to benefit the youth, women, and other vulnerable groups within the host communities.

The Ministry has also embarked on training of Local Government Authorities and grass-root private sector players within the host communities.

“We have had engagements with stakeholders in all regions and emphasized the need for development and promotion of tourism with involvement of all stakeholders along the value chain and equipped the participants with pre-requisite skill to manage and regulate the sector as well as arm them with business skills and product development knowledge. The Rolex Initiative Project for youth has benefited from this,” Butime noted.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, Uganda welcomed over 1.5 million visitors and received US$1.6 Billion in tourist revenue but this was cut to one-third in the following year and the prospects of 2021 are equally bleak.

The impact of these disruptions on the industry investment, private sector enterprise, and conservation efforts are significant and require support according to Butime.

In a bid to find solutions to these underlying issues, an e-conference will be organized to explore the World Tourism Day’s theme which is due on September 27, 2021.

This day will be commemorated globally under the theme “Tourism for inclusive growth” which theme is ideally timed to contribute to the debate on tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which places a high priority on local participation.

The conference will cover key topical issues in line with this year’s theme. These include equitability, tourism accessibility, financial accessibility, technology and innovations and greening the tourism industry.

“I urge fellow Ugandans to actively participate in the debate of making tourism work for inclusive growth, visit the attractions and engage in responsible tourism especially during this time of the pandemic,” said Butime.

The sector is cognizant of the changing landscape of tourism growth and competitiveness and will focus on product development and enhancing the quality of service as better times ahead are prepared for.

Butime further noted that the sector is aggressively marketing the destination with a message of reassurance and readiness to receive foreign tourists when they are ready to travel.

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