Ministers in the East African Community have agreed to set a standard Visa rate to increase the tourism sector in the region.
The ministries involved include Finance, Regional Affairs and Internal Affairs, but they are yet to conclude on the fee to be charged.
Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba says Uganda which is investing about 400,000 US dollars in its tourism sector needs to find ways of gaining revenue and catching up with countries like Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya spends over 24 million US dollars annually to market its tourism while Tanzania spends 10 million dollars, leaving Uganda riding on the back of the East African Community.
Mutagamba says the money from the visa fees shall then be shared after the reconciliation stage, but this will depend on which country the tourist has gone within the region.
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Cuthbert Baguma, the Executive Director Uganda Tourism Board, reveals that last year alone Uganda got 1,150,000 tourists, raising revenue of 805 million US Dollars. Baguma adds that the tourism industry is growing at a rate of 21.7 percent with leisure tourists spending on average 1,080 US Dollars according to research done by the International Trade Centre.
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However, tourists have on several occasions complained about Uganda’s poor roads that lead to the tourist sites.
Boniface Byamukama, the chairperson Tours Operators Association, says they have agreed together with the Ministry of Works and Transport to gazette some roads for construction. These include Ishasha-Katunguru road leading to the Ishasha wilderness camp, Kisoro-Nkuringo road that connects to Nkuringo Safari lodge, and Muko-Ruhija-Buhoma road leading to the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
The association has also launched a domestic flight schedule before the roads are completed.
Uganda’s selling points from the top include Bwindi national park, Kibaale National park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo National park among others.
The travel and Tourism Exhibition in Berlin, Germany early this month, saw Uganda emerging 5th best exhibitor out of 54 African countries. Uganda’s theme at the fair was “Uganda the Pearl of Africa, Your Eco-Tourism destination.” The East African Community was showcased as a single tourist destination.