Tourism Operators are demanding more Incentives to boost
investment in the sector.
The operators want incentives inform of tax holidays, tax waivers
on all imported tourism materials, policies on tourism development loans among
Stephen Asiimwe, former Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, says that
the government and policymakers should take lessons from a few developments in
the industry which were realized as a result of incentives that were indirectly
given during the Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007.
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Asiimwe says that many tourism facilities are being affected by several taxes
solicited by both the central and local government, which scares away investors.
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Jean Byamugisha, the Executive Director of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association,
says offering them incentives would boost their operations. She notes that more
than 90 percent of the hotels are built using bank loans at an interest rate of
20 percent plus per annum, a cost which is later passed on to the clients.
Byamugisha says they have been receiving reports that one of the
factors that have led to the decreased number of clients in most hotels is the
high prices, which forces visitors to go for relatively cheap places.
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Herbert Byaruhanga, the Vice President of Uganda Tourism Association says
incentives are good if availed, but priority should be local investors who are
struggling to sustain the industry.
Byaruhanga says that if the incentives are availed, it will help them develop
more tourism products, skills development, and marketing.
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Bradford Ochieng, the UTB Deputy Executive Director, says the board has been
tasked to advocate for incentives under the package, MICE-Meetings, Incentives,
Conferences, and Events.
“We think that the four combined will give the best result for the sector.
Incentives are highly important as they will see investors invest in the
sector. However, this is not something that will happen at once as it will
involve enjoyment of key players, policy makers, and top government officials”
The tourism industry has been consistently growing from 0.1 percent to now 10
percent of Gross Domestic Product-GDP. Records indicate that in 2017 the
industry attracted 700,000 visitors who have however increased 1.6million which
were record last year.
Currently, the ministry is laying strategies to promote tourism and increase on
its earnings from the current Shilling 10 trillion to Shillings 17 trillion by
The sector is also known for contributing to the local job market since
currently 6 percent of Uganda’s labour force is directly employed in the
sector. This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other
passenger transportation services.