(eTN) A USAID project unfolding in Uganda over the past months will be worth some US$6 million it was learned last week from sources close to the Uganda Tourist Board. In local currency, this will translate into well over 12 billion Uganda shillings and is aimed to promote Uganda’s biodiversity and attractions in the US marketplace, besides supporting initiatives in protecting crucial eco hotspots in the Albertine Rift – one of the branches of the Great African Rift Valley – and promoting community involvement in the sector.
One of the envisaged added products from the USAID project is supposed to focus on water-based tourism, as Uganda is blessed by lakes and rivers, few of which are exploited or tapped into for tourism purposes as yet. Tourism, at least stakeholders know this, has the capacity to generate additional jobs on the fast track while earning huge sums of foreign exchange for the country. Last year it is estimated that over US$700 million came in from over 800,000 arrivals into the country.
Government, though, has been keeping the sector on a short leash as far as budgetary allocations are concerned and, in fact, cut the budget for the Ministry of Tourism in real terms by about 20 percent, considering inflationary trends over the last 12 months, displaying a lack of understanding as to how to nurture the tourism industry while neighboring countries are pouring record funds into facilitating the marketing of their own destinations.