The State Minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi has said the country’s tourism sector has suffered a loss of more than $ 2 billion (Shs 7.3 trillion) due to the breakout of the Covid 19 pandemic that stopped movement of tourists across the world.
“Normally during tours, people combine their trips across different countries, when you reopen here and the other countries are locked it becomes a bit difficult to do well in tourism. Our numbers dropped, not only in Uganda but other countries we have lost more than $ 2 bn since we have lost earning s of four quarters which is a full financial year” he said.
Mr Kiwanda made the remarks while opening the two Bengal tigers exhibition area that were recently added to the big cat family at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) on Thursday.
“We were supposed to have earned more than 2 billion dollars in the current financial year but this has been lost. People have lost jobs in hotels, tour companies and the whole tourism fraternity” he said.
Mr Kiwanda said government has plans to help hotels and other key players in recover from the lock down by providing small loans.
“We have a plan and are already executing it on the part of the hoteliers to revamp their operations, we have begun with the workers who have been staying at home. However the biggest challenge in implementing it is that we didn’t know when the pandemic will end by March next year which will enable government give soft loans to the hoteliers to revamp their businesses” he said.
The Executive director UWEC Mr James Musinguzi has said the two tigers will be named in a month’s time as is tradition by conservation centre.
“The two are a great contribution to our recovery as a result of Covid 19. Our annual budget is Shs 13 bn, as a result of the fulfillment of the public finance and management Act we shall be remitting the funds we collect here to the consolidated fund and government will be giving us that money for the consolidated fund” he said.
The Board Chairperson UWEC Ms Flavia Kabahenda, said the pair of tigers that have adapted and are ready to be a tourist attraction were initially quarantined to ensure their safety.
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