UTB CEO tips women on investment in tourism

By Deo Wasswa

Members of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) have been urged to position their businesses in line with Uganda’s tourism in order to fully harness the opportunities presented by the sector.

Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Chief Executive Officer, highlighted the above while speaking to participants during a monthly UWEAL networking meeting held at the association’s offices located at Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), Lugogo earlier today 30th May.

She explained that positioning of their various businesses such as agriculture, craft, and accommodation; among others in line with tourism would enhance their opportunities to benefit from the sector.

“There are so many opportunities in the tourism sector. Right now for instance, the sector could benefit from more accommodation facilities ranging from home stays, budget and luxury lodges and hotels. Kampala has a number of facilities but once you are out of the city, the need for more investment in accommodation facilities is quickly evident,” Ajarova said.

She also revealed that UTB had formally written to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development requesting for incentives to be extended to investors looking to set up accommodation facilities in different parts of the country. This she hopes, will help alleviate the deficit.

Ajarova further encouraged the participants to set up home stays given that there is a growing number of tourists who prefer this arrangement.

“Here, you have a home that you only need to renovate then offer it for visitors and start earning money without having to set up a new building. However, you need to register with UTB, then we license and then grade your facility and eventually classify it. This is the only way we can promote your business,” Ajarova said.

She added, “Tourism is now about branding, storytelling and immersing tourists into an experience. Once you add this to your product, then you will be on the right track to benefit from tourism”

Connie Kekihembo, the CEO of UWEAL acknowledged UTB for sharing the information with the association’s members saying that the session was an eye opener for many of them.

“One of the things we look at when planning for these networking sessions is government priorities. We noticed that there’s high investment and prioritization of tourism and yet our women were not well positioned. We have heeded to this advice and we shall identify the areas to invest in because we have the capacity to grow tourism just like the agricultural sector,” she noted.

Kekihembo also said, “We have always spoken about value addition because most of our members are in agribusiness. Today, we have found out that agribusiness can also be turned into a tourism product. So our members will not only add value to their products.”

UTB partners with golfers to promote golf tourism

By Edwin Muhumuza
The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has launched a partnership with the Uganda Gold Union(UGU) in a bid to position Uganda as Africa’s premier golf tourism destination.

This partnership begins with the sponsorship of the Uganda Gold Open Tour set for the 30th March until the 14th of September 2019.

Outgoing UTB, CEO, Steven Asiimwe says the signing of the agreement is to highlight the impact that the sport has on tourism directly and indirectly.

‘Today was the culmination of the discussions that started four years ago. We want the golfers to go beyond the golf course and go have an experience in every tour that they go. Golfers do not travel alone, they are people of influence ,who travel with their families, and if they(UGU) went beyond the 18 holes they could influence other holes.’ he said.

The Uganda Golf Union has always wanted UTB to sponsor some of their tournaments but UTB demanded for the benefits beyond mere sponsorship to include marketing Uganda as a top golf tourism destination.

According to Asiimwe, Uganda is uniquely placed for both the domestic and international golfer and in every town, golf courses are within the vicinity of an experience. In Mbale , one is in eye distance shot of Wanale and Mt. Elgon, rich in many waterfalls. In Kihihi, there is even an airfield next to it, among others.

‘We want to attract many golfers from neighboring countries, we are fortunate to be in some of the shortest travel distance for golfers’, Asiimwe added

The Uganda Golf Union President ,Innocent Kihika noted that golf and tourism do move together because when one goes out for a round of golf, they have to travel, find accommodation, buy meals, locate where to get refreshments, and where to lounge again and all these have economic impact on the communities.

The agreement is expected to last three years and for the first year the Golf Union will receive fifty million shillings.

According to statistics an estimated 5 to 10% travel worldwide with the sole purpose of playing golf and this number is steadily increasing and on a global scale, golf contributes about $20billion annually and by itself is able to attract millions of holiday makers across the world and Uganda is properly located, with friendly weather all year round to accommodate such visitors.

The Uganda golf championship will see golfers visit Mbale, Namulonge, Jinja, Entebbe, Mbarara, Fort Portal among other locations.

UTB, tourism police crack down another fraudster

By Edwin Muhumuza
Kampala, Uganda. February 2, 2019. In another operation with the aid of Tourism Police, Mr. Didan Atukunda from Mamba Gorilla Safari has been arrested for declining to pay back an erroneous payment made by a tourist.

Mr. Atukunda was arrested in a bar in Kabale at 2am by the Tourism Police Regional commandant- Kigezi region, ASP Tinka Emmanuel. The tourist erroneously paid $30.000 instead of $3000 for a trip to trek Gorillas and Mr. Atukunda declined to make the $27,000 refund; forcing the tourist to contact the Uganda Tourism Board. Prior attempts by UTB to discuss and agree to a payment plan between Mr. Atukunda and the touris proved futile leading to the involvement of Tourism Police in a crackdown for Mr. Atukunda’s arrest.
He is currently enroute Kampala from Kabale and will be detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.

The Uganda Tourism Board through its Quality Assurance department is taking strong interventions to curb crime in the sector.

According to the UTB, Quality Assurance Manager Mr. Samora Semakula, UTB has set up a Tourism security committee consisting of Tourism Police, MTWA and representation from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators with the let aim of tactfully handling fraud and any cases reported by tourists.
Tourism is Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner. We can not continue to let rogue operators destabilise the growth that we are seeing in the sector. Most importantly we want tourists to enjoy their stay in Uganda. Our role is to ensure quality standards are met in the sector.” Mr.Semakula said.

This brings the number of rogue your operators so far arrested this year to two. In a separate operation, Tourism Police and UTB cracked down and arrested Mr. Mugerwa Ahebwa who
defrauded American tourists of over $18,000. He is currently detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.

“We shall continue to crackdown rogue operators,”Mr. Semakula reinforces . The tourism industry currently contributes 10 per cent to gross domestic product, making it Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner. The industry contributes more than $1.4b (Shs5.1 trillion) annually and is projected to earn about Shs10 trillion ($2.7b) by 2020.

About the Uganda Tourism Board
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is a statutory organisation established in 1994. Its role and mandate was reviewed in the Tourism Act of 2008. The Board's mandate is to promote and market Uganda across the region and internationally, promote quality assurance in tourist facilities through training, grading and classification, promote tourism investment, support and act as liaison for the private sector in tourism development. The broader goals of the Board are to increase the contribution of tourism earnings and GDP; improve Uganda’s competitiveness as an international tourism destination; and increase Uganda's share of Africa's and World tourism market. UTB aims to create inclusive opportunities for the tourism sector through market transformation.