By Mulengera Reporters
If you are planning to organize a high profile event in town and hire NTV celebrated talk show host Patrick Kamara as the MC or moderator here is why you may have to think twice especially if you are the type that prefers an MC that will cover up and only say out things that you want to hear.
Just last week, Kamara proved uncompromising as he moderated a panel discussion at the consultative meeting NPA (closely working with UNDP) organized at Serena Conference Center to consult the private sector actors about things they want to see prioritized in NDP III whose thinking process is already underway.
National Development Plan III is one of the 6 NDPs, each lasting five years, through which the President’s vision or dream to transform Uganda is supposed to be delivered over all through one grand document called Vision 2040.
The leadership at NPA has chosen that NDP III will result from a consultative process and it’s in that context that private sector actors were last Thursday invited to give their views under the theme; “Enhancing value addition for inclusive growth in Uganda.”
Panel discussions were held during that breakfast policy series meeting including one where Vivian Lyanzi, the Quality Assurance Commissioner in the Tourism Ministry, was among key discussants.
In his submission, Lyanzi spoke about many things including the fact that as a tourist destination, Uganda has good products making it very competitive in the region “but we don’t yet have the right people to serve the product who are competitive enough.”
He added that this challenge of inadequate skilled human resources to support the tourism sector was being addressed through a number of interventions including the establishment of the Tourism Institute in Jinja. He said this had been built using a $10m loan which had properly been utilized.
Kamara didn’t allow him to even finish his point before interjecting. “But it took seven years to deliver that Institute and that doesn’t speak very well about the leadership in that sector. Does it?” Kamara asked as the audience cheered clearly catching Mr. Lyanzi off guard.
Kamara argued this wasn’t prudent because the loan had in the 7 years of no activity accumulated lots of interest that had to be paid and thereby depriving the tax payer in terms of service delivery. Lyanzi owned up saying that delay resulted from the fact that money came before adequate planning had been done around the Institute project. He owned up emphatically saying “this was regrettable.”
Notwithstanding the Kamara ambush, Lyanzi carried on and made his submission highlighting areas they want NDP III to prioritize to make tourism (which last FY brought in over $1bn in foreign exchange) do even much better.
He enumerated high tourism growth areas like the oil-rich areas saying those require prioritization and increased investment into tourism resources.
He also said they are looking forward to being supported to deepen partnerships with establishments like Buganda Kingdom to harness “mass tourism” around cultural attractions which the kingdom has in plenty. He said even religious tourism, epitomized by sites like Namugongo, has lately been very popular too. That these are good to enhance tourism earnings mostly targeting the domestic market.
Elite tourism, epitomized by things like people travelling to Uganda for conferences, is another growth area on which the sector leaders can’t take their eye off, Lyanzi stressed.
He thanked NPA for NDP II on which he said the National Plan for Tourism as a sector had been fashioned. That the NDP II envisaged Uganda adequately investing in tourism infrastructure turning the country into Africa’s most preferred tourist destination. He hoped NDP III can consolidate progress in that direction.
Lyanzi also bragged about the fact last year, over 1.4m tourists visited Uganda reflecting high growth as that is twice the number that visited 10 years ago.
He also reflected on positive selling factors that account for the rapid growth in Uganda’s tourism to the extent of becoming the country’s largest foreign exchange earner as of last FY. Uganda has best climate and rich history all of which he said should be harnessed to attract even higher tourist numbers.
Highlighting tourism infrastructure as one area of intervention NDP III should be very outspoken about, Lyanzi said much more forex will be earned once access to key tourist attractions is addressed. He said it was shameful that tourist attractions like the mountain gorillas and snow-capped Rwenzori remain categorized as hard to reach areas because of the bad state in which access roads are.
He also called on NPA to prioritize funding of climate change mitigation measures because even snow caps on Rwenzori are receding because of the climate change effect. He also spoke about invasive species which had caused tourists-attracting animals like the lions to migrate to safer environments implying there is need to comprehensively invest in restocking some of them to keep the tourists trickling in. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at email@example.com).