BY PAUL MURUNGI
KAMPALA. Uganda is projected to lose up to one million foreign tourist arrivals by the end of December, according to a new tourism report.
The report, which highlights the impact of Covid-19 on the sector was authored by the Ministry of Tourism and notes tourists arrivals that had been projected to increase to 1.6 million in 2020 is most unlikely.
Instead, the report says, arrivals will fall by 1.4 million with long time impact, which, at the very least, will be mitigated by the end of 2021.
The tourism sector, the report indicates, has in the process lost earnings of up to $1.06b (Shs3.9 trillion) due to falling arrivals attributed to Covid-19.
Restrictions both with Uganda and tourism source markets such as US, Canada, UK, Germany, China, Japan, and UAE have impacted tourism numbers with the worst decline recorded between March and June.
However, according to tourism experts, the recovery has been slow with projections indicating that normal tourism activities might take longer before recovery.
Ms Lily Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board chief executive officer, told Daily Monitor in an interview that whereas the sector might take some time to recover, they have developed a recovery plan that seeks to reboot tourism.
For instance, she said, licensing all tourism stakeholders and promoting local tourism will be key in the in the recovery plan as well as diversifying tourism products.
Government has in the last two years pushed the development of other products such as religious and cultural and agricultural tourism, among others as a way of diversifying the sector away from the nature-based tourism.
“All these tourism assets have been lying idle. It is time we wake up to make sure that we develop these different assets and market them to have a comparative advantage,” Ms Ajarova said.
According to the report client bookings with either hotels or tour and travel companies experienced a sharp drop between March and June 2020, falling to an average of 13 bookings from between 152 and 113.
The report also notes that at least seven in 10 tourism enterprises cancelled, which saw the sector lose about $367.2m (Shs1.37 trillion) in the period to June.