Saturday, 13 April 2013

Uganda backslides in global tourism ranking

A zebra at Lake Mburo National Park, Much as Uganda is endowed with unique tourism attractions, the industry is not bringing in as much revenue as it should.

The 2012 World Economic Forum survey ranks Uganda 116th out of 140 countries compared to 115th in 2011.
Despite receiving a number of international accolades in the past, Uganda slid a step back in the global travel and tourism ranking last year.
In assessing the attractiveness and competitiveness in the field of travel and tourism, the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2013 report released recently, ranked the country 116th out of 140 countries.
This compares with the 115 position the country attained in 2011. Although the industry’s ranking slipped, Uganda fetched $805 million (Shs2 trillion) last year, according to data from the tourism ministry, up from $662 million in 2010.
Uganda, according to the report, is a victim of negative perception on the part of potential tourists, who have concerns for their safety and security, which are critical factors that influence tourists’ choices of destinations.
On the issue of safety and security, Uganda attained a rating of 124, out of the assessed 140 countries.
Negative tourist perspectives tend to scare away tourists from choosing a country in question as a tourism destination.
The country also ranks poorly in health and sanitation where it is in the 125 position, prioritisation of the sector (109).
In the area of business environment and infrastructure, Uganda ranks 121, just like Tanzania, and below Kenya’s 105 and Rwanda’s 117 positions.
Under the human, cultural and natural resources parameter, Uganda ranks 77, just below Kenya’s and Tanzania’s 59 and 60th positions, respectively, but ahead of Rwanda’s 104 rank.
Global accolades
The poor ratings run counter to the various global recognitions that Uganda has received in the past one or so years, including being named the best tourism destination in 2012, voting Bwindi Impenetrable National park as Africa’s number one birding site, ranking Murchison FallsNational Park as the ninth place among the top 10 birding sites on the continent and Mt. Rwenzori among the top 15 hiking spots in the world.
The Uganda Tourism Board executive director Mr. Cuthbert Baguma, however, didn’t agree with the rankings, saying the report does not clearly indicate the parameters used to rank Uganda.
“Uganda has improved in many spheres, that’s why it has continued to receive global recognitions. Infrastructure and security have all improved so I don’t know what they are talking about,” Mr. Baguma told the Daily Monitor yesterday.
He added that Uganda received 1.2 million tourist arrivals last year.
Mr. Amos Wekesa, a player in the industry, however, attributed the negative security ranking to failure on the part of the relevant authorities to market the country’s tourism potential in order to improve its security perceptions in key source markets.
“If money is not injected to market the country, Uganda will always be poorly ranked,” Mr. Wekesa said.
Uganda, however, scores highly in the area of natural resources, ranking 25th, ahead of Kenya’s and Rwanda’s 14th and 61 positions but below Tanzania’s 4th ranking.