Uganda’s earnings from visitor exports improve

FAITH MUNDUA MORIAH

Uganda hit the $1bn mark in revenue earnings from visitor exports, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu has revealed.

According to Kamuntu, earnings from visitor exports stand at $ 1.35 bn (Shs 4.9trillion) which translates into23.5% of the country’s total earnings from exports.

Visitor exports are the spending within a country by international tourists for leisure and business travel.

The improved revenue earnings is attributed to an increase in the number of international tourists coming into the country. A total of 1,302,802 international tourists are recorded to have visited Uganda last year.

“Direct contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP stands at Shs 2.982 trillion which is 3.7% of the total GDP while the sector’s total contribution to GDP is now Shs 7. 27trillion which is 9.0% of GDP,” Kamuntu said.

He added that the tourism sector has created 1.173 million jobs in Uganda, thus being responsible for 7.8% of total employment. He was speaking at Nyakasanga grounds in Kasese district during the commemoration of this year’s World Wildlife day (WWD).

The United Nations fixed March 3 as the WWD to appreciate and celebrate the existence of wildlife. This year, it was commemorated under the theme “Big Cats Our Future Pride.”

Big cats (lions, leopards, cheetahs and tigers) are an endangered species as their products are illegally used in wildlife trade. It is for this reason that the United Nations declared this year’s WWD theme “Big Cats” so as to create awareness on their conservation.

“Big cats are crucial on the tour safaris therefore we need to protect and guard them jealously because the world would look empty without them” Kamuntu said.

POACHING

Uganda’s tourism industry however still faces a challenge of poaching that is threatening the animal population in the country’s National Parks.

“We are going to make poaching a very risky venture,” the State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda said.

Lily Ajorova the executive director Chimp Trust urged political leaders to commit to protect wildlife since “conservation is for us all.”

Uganda is among the world’s top tourism destinations with its spectacular landscape and a variety of other unique attractions. It is a host to 53.9% of the world’s remaining population of Mountain gorillas, 11% of the world’s recorded species of birds (which is 50% of Africa’s bird species), 8% of the global mammal diversity (which is 39% of Africa’s mammal richness), 19% of Africa’s Amphibian species richness, 14% of Africa’s reptile species richness and 1,249 recorded species of butterflies.