The European Union has affirmed its commitment to enhancing cooperation with Uganda in supporting the country’s tourism sector. At the occasion of the 2022 Ekkula Tourism Awards, the European Union Head of Delegation to Uganda, H.E Ambassador Jan Sadek reiterated EU commitment to support a sector that plays a key role in generating revenue, jobs and economic growth for Uganda.
Ambassador Sadek notes that while the tourism sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners for Uganda’s economy and plays an important role in the livelihoods of many ordinary citizens, the negative shocks and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic were still present, and require collective action.
“Tourism sector revenues were greatly affected by the COVID-19- pandemic, along with travel and lockdown restrictions that followed. The path to recovery is long and arduous. On this journey, Uganda can still count on the support of the European Union. We are grateful for the work that the Government of Uganda is doing to enhance our partnerships,” Ambassador Sadek said.
He further noted that, ”the Ebola outbreak was sadly also detected in the tourism statistics – but it seems now that also that situation is under control. So I am hoping and praying that the Ugandan tourism sector may quickly recover. And on that journey, I can assure you, Uganda can count on the support of the European Union!”
To support the recovery of the tourism sector, Ambassador Sadek said that the EU in partnership with Uganda Development Bank, launched at the end of 2020 a recovery fund of 16 million Euros (EU EUR 6 mio + UDB EUR 10 mio) to support businesses in the tourism sector in form of soft loans combined with grants.
“This Facility is intended to give operators access to working capital to fast track recovery post Covid-19, and support initiatives to become more environmentally friendly. We are also developing programmes that support biodiversity, majorly looking at the protected areas, climate change, and support to tourism host communities,” he said.
Other European Union initiatives to support the sector include the Green Tourism Project whose aim is to boost the transformation of Uganda towards an inclusive green economy; the training of tourism entrepreneurs in partnership with the Agha Khan Foundation; the establishment of the Uganda Railway Museum in Jinja; the first of its kind in East Africa; and the Handicraft and Souvenir Development Project among others.
“A part from these EU initiatives, I would like to acknowledge the important contributions that some EU Member States are also doing to the tourism sector in Uganda like the Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands, in sectors like skilling and training, product development, marketing and promotion”
“We, The EU and its Member States are dedicated to supporting the tourism sector in Uganda to ensure many more people from all over the world come and visit this beautiful and unique country,” Ambassador Sadek said.
Organised by Africa Tourism and Environment Initiatives (ATEI) and supported by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism awards were held under the theme “Rethinking Tourism and Promotion of Green Initiatives.” Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja officiated at the event as Chief Guest.
The Awards recognise stakeholders in the tourism industry for their selfless service and contribution towards making Uganda a Global Travel destination. The event is a private sector-driven tourism initiative passionate about promoting tourism through training and motivating key stakeholders in the tourism industry.