TOURISM GETS OWN MINISTRY BACK
As projected here a few weeks ago, President Museveni has indeed re-constituted a separate Ministry of Tourism, leaving Trade and Industry behind as a ‘stand alone’ ministry again to the great relief of the entire industry. New cabinet minister is the Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, who already served as state minister in the former ministry of tourism, trade and industry and has the required insight and without doubt the intellect to provide guidance and leadership to the sector which has of late been suffering of bad publicity as a result of opposition incited incidents on the streets of Kampala, but also from the fallout of bad decisions made by the former minister who gained some serious notoriety when he referred to himself as the ‘minister for crocodiles’.
During the World Bank ‘inspired’, if not dictated public sector reform in the late 90’s the ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities was force-merged with Trade and Industry, not a compatible ‘marriage’ unlike for instance a joining with natural resources or environment, and this promptly caused outrage and serious concerns by the sector for not being consulted at all, which in coming years was proven exactly right as the tourism portfolio constantly pulled the short straws when it came to budget allocations, leaving the tourist board seriously cash starved and the sector almost in neglect.
The forthcoming budget reading will give the tourism industry a better idea what resources government will allocate to the ministry and the tourist board, as the initial action now witnessed must of course be followed up by sufficient cash to go out and promote Uganda to the world, as our neighbours Rwanda and Kenya have amply demonstrated and very successfully so in recent years. In the meantime, the new government is granted the traditional 100 days grace period to settle in and get into gear, but expectations will be high that fundamental change is now on the way to propel Uganda’s tourism industry truly into the 21st century.
From this correspondent it is a hearty welcome to Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, who served with me on the board of the Rhino Fund Uganda a decade ago, and all the best of luck and good fortune in steering Uganda’s tourism sector to new exciting heights.
Watch this space.