They said it was a pity that tourism, which is a big foreign exchange earner for the country, was not sufficiently marketed.
According to statistics, the number of tourist who visited Uganda increased from 817,424 in 2009 to 945,899 in 2010. In 2009, tourism contributed $572m, shooting up to $662m in 2010.
Addressing the nation recently, President Yoweri Museveni said tourism could bring in an additional $500m given that national parks, hotels and tourist sites are available.
Committee chairman Steven Kagwera said the MPs had noted that Uganda had only budgeted $220,000 for tourism advertising this financial year, compared to Kenya’s $57m and Tanzania’s $8m.
In response, Kamuntu said by the time the budget was planned he had not yet been appointed as minister, adding that there was a lot of work to be done in the ministry.
“Tourism has a big potential and we have not played our role. We need to reposition it. We will come with a supplementary budget to boost the sector,” Kamuntu said.
He told the MPs that although the ministry had been split from trade and industry, it was yet to get its own offices, permanent secretary and undersecretary.
“We are sharing offices and a permanent secretary. We need to move. It is like a man getting married and staying in his father’s house.”
Kamuntu said with the separation of the two ministries, employment in the tourism industry was expected to grow from 65,000 to 182,000 in the next five years.
Cuthbert Baguma, the executive director of the Uganda Tourism Board, said the Tourism Act of 2009 gave the board the function of marketing the sector.
By John Odyek as reported in the Newvision