(eTN) – Ahead of the reading of the annual government budget in mid-June, the Uganda Tourist Board (UTB) has asked for a US$10 million fund allocation to more effectively sell the country abroad and attract more tourist visitors. UTB, or Tourism Uganda as it is known of late, has drawn up an action plan to penetrate new and emerging markets while also working existing tourist markets for Uganda and has put a price tag of about US$10 million on their intended activities for next year. While Uganda has recorded a steady growth in arrival numbers between 2000 and 2007, the last two years were difficult for the tourism sector as a result of the global economic and financial crisis, and numbers did reduce, a trend UTB now seeks to reverse to the upwards again.
Industry observers are divided over the timing of the budgetary demands, and although some mention was made during the Presidential Investors Round Table meeting last week, it is unlikely that the budget, which by now is largely ready, will tweak funds towards tourism at the expense of other sectors of the economy, which are in equal need of government support.
Budgeting normally starts as early as September each year and then culminates in the reading of the draft budget by the Ministers for Finance in June each year on the same day across the entire East African Community member states. The current demand is thought to rather serve notice to the government of future intent to get greater funding, but indications are that the overall funding for the Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry may reduce funds by about 20 percent for the next financial year, according to information available from usually well-informed sources. Meanwhile, all the best to Cuthbert Baguma, the new UTB chief executive and his team in their endeavors to promote the country.