Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has received a new leadership, the Former Minister of Local Government Col. Tom Butime has taken over from Professor Ephraim Kamuntu who has also taken over as the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
In Exercising of the Powers vested in the President in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni made minor changes to the Cabinet which included the appointment of Tom Butime as the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, a position that was held by Professor Ephraim Kamuntu who on the other hand was transferred to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Butime during the handover at the Ministry headquarters said he will make all efforts to ensure they increase funding to the sector and also take all strides to increase on the number of tourist arrivals in the country.
“The professor (Kamuntu) has been struggling in the cabinet for funding for this ministry and I surely believe we will have an increase in the 2020/21 budget because of his efforts.
“I will engage the ministry of finance to let them understand that I’m not asking this money for leisure. We will also actualize what he (Kamuntu) wanted to change the name of the ministry to ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage.”
“I will do my best together with other tourism players to ensure we increase the numbers of tourist arrivals in our country, I believe we have the most tourist attractions than our neighbours, I have no doubt we will push together for the success of this sector,” said Butime.
“In one and half years we will try to achieve what is immediate and what is required by the National Development Plan (NDP), I am a little impatient and I want to achieve, I want results and want to achieve something for this sector so that the next leadership finds something,” he added.
Among the plans that he mentioned he will start to work on include; “Redeveloping the Uganda National Museum, Redeveloping the hot springs at each point they are found in the country, Investment in high-end lodges, working on the necessary paperwork to ensure Uganda hosts the MTV Africa Music Awards in June 2020 to provide platform to market destination Uganda and also construction of a convention centre.”
Kamuntu, on the other hand, talked of what he achieved and asked his successor to take up from where he stopped.
“The foreign exchange earnings grew by 10.1% from USD 1.45 Billion in 2017 to USD 1.6 billion, A total of 667,600 people were employed in the Travel and Tourism industry, which constitutes nearly 6.7% of Uganda’s Labor force”
“The tourist arrivals into Uganda have steadily increased from 850,000 in 2008 to over 1.6 million arrivals in 2018,” said Kamuntu.
Uganda has seen steady growth in tourism in terms of tourist arrivals, foreign exchange earnings and tourism contribution to Gross Domestic Product.
The sector accounted for 7.3 per cent of GDP, foreign exchange earnings worth USD1.45 billion and more than 600,000 jobs in 2017.
Africa contributed the majority of tourists with Rwanda and Kenya sharing 31 per cent and 24 per cent of the total arrivals respectively.
Most of the arrivals were male at 66 per cent and the bulk of tourists fell within the 20 - 39 age demographic at 56 per cent.
Although the proportion of leisure visitors to total visitor arrivals is still relatively small, it increased from 18 per cent in 2016 to 20.1 per cent in 2017.
The successful handover was witnessed by heads of different tourism bodies who among others included the Minister of State for tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, the Chief Executive of the Uganda Tourism Board, officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education centre among others.
Who is Col. Tom Butime;
Retired Colonel Tom Butime was born in 1947. He serves as the Member of Parliament for Mwenge County Central, Kyenjojo District, in western Uganda.
Previous offices held include Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of State for Refugees and Disaster Preparedness, Minister of State for International Cooperation and acting Foreign Minister.
A historical member of the rebel National Resistance Army in the bush war from 1981-86 that ushered into the ruling Movement (NRM), Butime served as Special District Administrator, Nebbi District neighbouring (Murchison Falls) as his one of his postings.
BY FRANK SEMATA