CNN’s praise gives Ugandan tourism a huge marketing opportunity

By our News Team | 2023

But concern that cuts to the national tourism budget will, instead, hinder the sector’s growth and benefit East African travel rivals.

Tourism marketers in Uganda are concerned that the country sometimes described as the ‘Pearl of Africa’ may lose impetus as a visitor destination due to proposed cuts in the tourism budget.

International broadcaster CNN recently called Uganda one of the “best destinations to visit” in 2023 – along with fellow African nations Tanzania and Rwanda, as well as the Egyptian city of Cairo.

Tourism Marketing

Photo courtesy of Explore Uganda

But parliamentarians in Uganda have now expressed dismay over a proposed cut in the tourism budget from Ush194.6-billion (US$52-million) in the current financial year to Ush89.29-billion ($24-million) in the 2023-24 financial year.

“This contradicts the government’s focus on promoting and marketing the country’s tourism to earn more foreign exchange and create jobs,” Hon. Mwine Mpaka, the Chairperson of the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, is quoted as saying on the official website of Uganda’s Parliament.

Cuts will mostly impact promotion and marketing

The country’s shadow minister for tourism, Karim Masaba, also voiced concern. “The budget cuts will mostly affect tourism promotion and marketing. But also, according to the National Development Plan III, new tourism products which are supposed to be developed for the next five years will not be realised,” Masaba is quoted as saying by Business Insider Africa.

According to the publication, Uganda already invests less in tourism that East African contemporaries such as Kenya and Rwanda.

Tourism businesses are worried too. Daniel Tusiime, Chief Executive of Hurra Uganda Safaris, told The EastAfrican newspaper: “I understand the government itself was affected financially by the Covid period, but I was hoping that would have been an eye opener to focus on sectors like tourism that require more funding to directly realise returns of foreign income in the shortest time possible.”

In its appraisal of Uganda as a holiday destination, CNN noted that: “There’s considerable change brewing in Uganda’s travel offerings at the moment with the East African country looking beyond the traditional staples of safari and wildlife spotting to appeal to both regional and international visitors.”

“Keen to revitalise post-Covid tourism in all corners of the country, not just the big-ticket businesses offering wealthy visitors a glimpse of the Big Five beasts or mountain gorillas, it’s turned to marketing its other attributes.”