Uganda's Tourism Sector Nears Full Recovery Post-Covid, Projected to Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels by Year-End

Uganda’s Tourism Sector Nears Full Recovery Post-Covid, Projected to Surpass Pre-Pandemic Levels by Year-End

Kampala, Uganda (TAE)– Uganda’s tourism industry is on the brink of a significant milestone, aiming to reach and possibly exceed pre-pandemic revenue levels by the end of 2024, following an impressive 83.4 percent rebound last year. The latest tourism trend and statistics report for 2024, unveiled on Tuesday, showcases a robust recovery, with international tourist receipts climbing 48.5 percent to $1.025 billion, nearing the $1.6 billion benchmark set in 2019.

This resurgence is largely attributed to an increase in arrivals from Africa and key overseas markets, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and India. Uganda has been proactive in the last three years, marketing its destinations extensively in southern and western Africa and expanding Uganda Airlines’ network to new African routes. Notably, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan remain Uganda’s top African source markets, accounting for 80 percent of all African arrivals in 2023.

Doreen Katusiime, the Tourism Permanent Secretary, highlighted the collaborative efforts behind this achievement: “Through the concerted efforts of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, in collaboration with its agencies and the private sector, we have witnessed a recovery of the industry. International arrivals have increased to an impressive 82.6 percent of pre-pandemic levels.”

The report also sheds light on the surge in domestic tourism, which saw a 25.3 percent increase in 2023, signaling a growing interest among Ugandans in exploring their national parks and recreational centers. As a cornerstone of Uganda’s economy, the tourism sector contributes approximately 4.7 percent to the country’s GDP and, before the pandemic, stood as the leading foreign exchange earner with annual revenues of about $1.6 billion. It also supports over 620,000 jobs, either directly or indirectly.

The optimism surrounding the sector’s growth is tempered by calls for increased government funding. Last year, the government’s decision to slash the tourism budget from Ush194.6 billion ($52 million) to Ush89.29 billion ($24 million) sparked widespread criticism. Stakeholders argue that enhanced financial support is crucial for upgrading and maintaining tourism sites, participating in international expos, refining the national tourism marketing strategy, and developing new attractions.

The global tourism sector is gradually recovering, with Asia and Africa leading the revival. According to the World Tourism Organisation, international tourism receipts approximated $1.4 trillion in 2023, reaching 93 percent of the pre-pandemic earnings of $1.5 trillion in 2019. Uganda’s tourism industry’s rebound is a testament to its resilience and the effectiveness of strategic marketing and development efforts, positioning the country for a brighter, more prosperous post-pandemic future.

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