James Tumusiime: cultural tourism is orphaned

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In short
James Tumusiime, the Chairman of Board of Directors of Uganda Tourism Board, says cultural tourism in Uganda is marginalized despite generating a lot of revenue for the government.

James Tumusiime, the Chairman of Board of Directors of Uganda Tourism Board, says cultural tourism in Uganda is marginalized despite generating a lot of revenue for the government.
Speaking in an interview with Uganda Radio Network, Tumusiime, also the founder and chief executive of Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara, says no effort should be spared in promoting and developing cultural tourism because of its crucial importance to the economy.
Cultural tourism, or culture tourism, is the subset of tourism concerned with a country or region's culture. Specifically it is about the lifestyle of the people, their history, art, food, architecture, religion, traditions, and other tangible and intangible elements that helped shape their way of life.
In Uganda, elements of cultural tourism include visits to villages, slums, gardens as well as trails.
According to Tumusiime, cultural tourism is projected to generate 1.1 trillion shillings compared to 800 million shillings from nature tourism. That is money that could fund the entire health budget of Uganda.
In 2014, of the estimated 1.1 million tourists who visited Uganda, only 100 thousand came for nature tourism, which includes visits to national parks and bird watching. The rest came for cultural tourism.
During the same period, Uganda reportedly raked in over one trillion shillings from tourism alone, making it the biggest revenue generator for Uganda, ahead of remittances from the Ugandan diaspora and coffee exports.
Tumusiime says if Uganda developed cultural tourism it would earn much more than what it currently earns.
He wonders why, as he puts it, when one wants to open a tomato processing factory he or she gets incentives but something of cultural significance doesn't, concluding that the cultural tourism sub-sector is "orphaned".
In the 2015/16 budget, the government allocated just 30.8 billion Shillings to the tourism sector. Finance minister Matia Kasaija then said the focus is on diversifying tourism products based on communities.
As a result, regional tourism clusters were formed in Buganda, Busoga, Kigezi, Bugisu, Bunyoro, Toro, Northern Uganda and West Nile.
Kasaija said the move is to identify, develop and market region-specific tourism products with close support of the Uganda Tourism Board.
The Irish Ambassador to Uganda, Donal Cronin, says the 1.1 tourists who came to Uganda in 2014 is too small for a country of 35 million people with vast tourism potential.
Cronin says Ireland, with a population of just five million, was visited by 7.5 million tourists in 2014the same year because they have packaged their tourism potential well.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), cultural tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing global tourism markets.
Many locations are now actively developing their tangible and intangible cultural assets as a means of developing comparative advantages in an increasingly competitive tourism marketplace, and to create local distinctiveness in the face of globalization.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."