Tourism increasingly plays a central role in Uganda’s economy – also featuring
strongly in Covid-19 recovery responses. The sector contributed 7.75% of GDP and 6.7% of total national employment in 2018 (CBI, 2020). In addition to direct job creation and GDP contributions, the sector offers add-on benefits of related infrastructure investments and indirect income generation across supply chains (Budget Framework FY 19-20). The tourism sector supports employment in the wildlife sector, transportation, retail, culture, sports and recreation industries (UTD Master Plan). The sector is dominated by SMEs and family-owned businesses who offer popular tourism services, including safaris, birdwatching, tours of cultural sites, handicrafts and more. Despite advancements since 2017 in the sustainability of the tourism and travel industry in Uganda, 2019 revealed a dip in compliance and
stringency of environmental regulations in the sector (Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019).
As the sector recovers from the pandemic, there is evidence of a growing trend,
largely due to international demand, for sustainability accreditation and ecolabelling of tour operators, As Uganda moves forward in advancing a resilient, inclusive and green economy, sustainable tourism SMEs will play a central role. The tourism sector offers opportunities to generate income and jobs while protecting Uganda’s vast wildlife and biodiversity, and strengthening cultural heritage.
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