By 2020, Uganda’s tourism target was to have 4 million tourist visitors and earn USD 2.7 billion annually. The areas of focus remain aggressive promotion and marketing of Uganda to unlock the country’s tourism potential; diversifying tourism product range; improving tourism and hospitality skills along the tourism value chain; and strengthening conservation of natural and cultural heritage assets. In order to increase the tourism potential at the pre-visit service stage, the plan in NDP II was to focus on promotion of domestic tourism through cultural, regional cluster initiatives and national events among others.
The direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in 2018 was US$1.4billion (9.9% of GDP). The sector employs 520,000 people directly, and one million more indirectly. In 2017, the country attracted 1,459,000 international tourist arrivals; up from 1,322,522 arrivals in 2016. Holiday/leisure tourists accounted for 17.9 percent (237,312visitors) of total tourists representing 13 percent growth compared to 2015. Among the NDP II tourism priority areas is the plan to focus on improvement, diversification and exploitation of tourism products with emphasis on harnessing and developing tourism products that are climate resilient to ensure the sustainability of the sector and the market segment that thrives on natural products. With over 750 registered archeological, paleontological, historical and traditional sites, the Government has ongoing works to develop museum and heritage sites for cultural promotion.
Government in partnership with the private sector is also focusing on increasing the quantity and quality of accommodation facilities, improving the quality of related services, such as skilling the staff in the hospitality industry. The growth in tourist arrival in the country is being matched by establishment of hotels which contribute to enhancing accommodation capacity and improving the living quality of guests.
Government is also promoting domestic tourism through various initiatives to encourage locals to explore and experience the beauty of their country. These initiatives include: a drive dubbed Tulambule Uganda undertaken by Uganda Tourism Board; publicizing of Uganda Martyrs through production of a movie called Final Flames of Uganda Martyrs and development of the Uganda Martyrs trail which include 16 visitation sites. All neighbourhoods surrounding and adjacent to protected areas especially national parks, are given 20 percent of the total revenue earned from tourism. This 20 percent is shared by all communities to promote positive feelings towards tourism in the respective communities.