By Aggrey Nshekanabo
It is stupid to say; “Tourism is everyone’s business” because it is not. Tourism is government business and let me explain. The greatest beneficiary to the tourism sector is the Treasury of the Government of Uganda.
Unfortunately, GoU behaves like a man who kills your father and marries your mother and expects you to call that man your father!
Let’s look at the biggest investors in the sector! The hoteliers! Who are the people that are heavily taxed? Hoteliers! What do they get in return? Zero!
The greatest beneficiary is simply giving us; “An Enabling Environment” but if you look at the other economies, we can see great investment by the state in the drivers to the industry. Please do not give me the crap of dreamliners.
The biggest challenge to Uganda’s tourism is not international connectivity but internal travel. When one has landed at Entebbe, one has to think of how to maneouver Kampala grindlock (leave Entebbe Express alone). With the money spent on that express, we could have established a train service hauler between the airport and Jinja Road and the benefits are far greater than the motorway. To Murchison, Queen Elizabeth National Park or any of the parks for that matter, it takes at least 3-7 hours to reach. Look at the cost of fuel! To Murchison and back, one requires fuel of not less than 700,000/- in a Toyota Hiace Super Custom or and much more for Toyota LandCruiser!
How has the state helped in ensuring that there are sports facilities (Yes, I can see Nakivubo) is up and running. I have a friend who whenever he gets an opportunity to travel to Germany, a ticket for his team (Hannover) is booked! He does that every two years. Where are the cultural centres (the government wants) to demolish the national theatre for a shopping mall and same with the Museum (yet a visit to Kampala is incomplete without those must go to places.
Where is the accommodation, the transportation, the entertainment facilities? If you had a conference of 10,000 people in Kampala, you will turn all nooks into places of aboard. I am not sure our bed/room coverage is beyond 10,000. My friend at UHOA Jean Byamugisha can share how we are doing.
Yet, for every 10 jobs created, 3 are in the tourism sector. It is the greatest employer more than any other sector and income from it has exceeded coffee, tea and cotton exports (more than agriculture). How sustainable is that for development?
Until recently, I wanted to take an adrenaline challenge (Bangee Jumping in Jinja) for my next leap in life and wonder of wonders, it is no more. Reason, the investor is finding it a challenge! Can we just not invest in that? Even poor Zimbabwe (as we were made to believe) cannot allow such a thing to be abandoned even for a day. My friend Sam ensures that he organises monthly “Walk in the Sky at Mutarazi” That’s not a private investment! And we can have several mutarazis across the Nile (Murchison), On Mt. Elgon, over the crater lakes in Bunyaruguru and Kabarole.
If you know that the niche for Uganda is in tourism and and it is your biggest next best thing to employ the youth because of its diverse and unique natural (God given) attractions, why just not invest in it? Look at the budget allocated to tourism promotion (first of course should be investment) and investments) and you will cry.
You do not invest in your cashcow and you call yourselves….Mukama! And you put money into a #Zari and #KanyeSIGYE? Well, we know you have been lying that tourism is everyone’s business. How come food supplies to the hotel sector is from Kenya and South Africa? How is agricultural sector investment linked to tourism? Someone up there needs some brain surgery. How can you even not invest in a simple pageant like Miss Tourism? Imagine!