The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) through its Tourism product development and diversification programme has partnered with Agribusiness enterprises to support the development and promotion of Agro- Tourism across 18 regions and 51 districts in the Country.
This initiative comes after UTB together embarked on a familiarization trip to the Western region districts of; Mbarara, Isingiro and Bushenyi to pay a courtesy visit at Agribusiness incubation farms including; Gudie Incubation Farm Limited, Bushenyi Youth Forum Project (Bushenyi demonstration farm) and Excel Hort Consult Agribusiness Incubator Limited (EHCAI). Through this partnership, the board will focus on the development of Agro-Tourism products and services, create awareness, support and facilitate Agribusiness and Tourism stakeholders so as to boost the tourism sector and cushion it through multi-sectoral collaborations.
Having analyzed the impact caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 on Uganda’s tourism sector, the board opted to tap into opportunities availed by other sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Manufacturing, among others to boost tourism since the industry co-exists with almost every sector of the Economy.
Commenting about the partnership, Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer –Lilly Ajarova applauded the opportunity presented by merging Agriculture and Tourism as this will be a great milestone towards exploring possible opportunities for developing Agro-tourism in the Country and also to help people involved in tourism to have an extra income even when the sector is on a low and in this way fast track the achievement of Middle income status as per Vision 2040 and be able to diversify the tourism product offering in the country.
Ajarova added that, ‘’Tourism and Agriculture both work hand in hand and employ a big number of the population in the Country, therefore merging the two sectors presents a unique opportunity for economic development and also bring about an improvement in peoples livelihoods and incomes for sustainable growth.
Excel Hort Consult Agribusiness Incubator Limited – Director General Mr Alex Abiho, who also serves as the CEO of African Incubation Centre that supports the development of Small and Medium Enterprises in East and Central Africa working closely with different partners lauded Uganda Tourism Board for the background visit and pledged to liase with the Tourism board so as to support Agribusiness SME’s across 18 regions and 51 districts in Uganda.
He said, ‘’We have also committed to work with partners such as; Uganda Tourism Board, Gofan Safaris, Travel Neza, Agro-Tourism Association among others towards the development of Agriculture and Tourism in the Country.’’
He added that, for the next 5 years ahead, EHCAI looks further to incubate upto 27,000 start-ups that are willing to join the sector through training of Youth and Women in collaboration with the Uganda Tourism Board for support and facilitation.
He further appreciated new relations with UTB towards fulfilling the African Union Agenda 2023 aimed at developing Agriculture and Tourism.
Mr Ariho also revealed that EHCAI is looking towards improving on Research as through this, the Private Sector will liase with Universities for forums on Agribusiness development and Research.
He concluded that, through partnerships with the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Agriculture Farm Service Centre for Western region and National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) that mobilise farmers groups and Associations, there’s need to use technology before preparing farmers for their packages and also through collaboration with the Microfinance Support Centre, that will be good for affordable financing to farmers and also make Uganda able to produce profitable crisps which initially were imported from South Africa among other Countries.
Mr John Mujuni, the Research Professor at Makerere University also noted that they have been working together to make Agriculture attractive right from motivating start-ups from incubation, production level until having the product itself.
He revealed that, ‘’Tourism has for long-time been confined to Wild animals, National parks, etc and therefore with the diversification of Agro-Tourism, this will be the only way to go so as to develop the Agricultural sector.
Since the outbreak of the Corona Virus disease; which was declared by the People’s Republic of China on 31 December 2019, the global tourism sector has been hit with Uganda no different. However, some sectors have continued to somehow thrive even during this pandemic like Agriculture, Health, Manufacturing, etc. Since tourism can co-exist with almost any industry, the sectors that are thriving present an opportunity for tourism to merge with them and be cushioned against the adverse effects the pandemic has put upon tourism.
Furthermore, UTB is mandated to Liaise with tourism partners to broaden the diversity of appropriate tourism products and services offered in the country to ensure that these products developed align with the UTB’s marketing approach and also conform to international standards.
It is against this background that UTB would like to explore possibilities of developing Agro tourism in the Country to help people involved in tourism to have an extra income even when the sector is on a low and in this way fast track achievement of Middle income status as per Vision 2040 and also diversify the tourism product offering in the country. Agro tourism is the business of establishing farms as travel destinations for educational and recreational purposes. Agro tourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two complex industries—Agriculture and Tourism—to open up new profitable markets for farm products and services and provide travel experiences for a large regional market.
ABOUT UGANDA TOURISM BOARD
Uganda Tourism Board is a statutory organization mandated under the Uganda Tourism Act 2008 to promote Uganda as a preferred destination for both domestic and foreign tourists and to enforce and monitor standards in the tourism sector. UTB aims to create inclusive opportunities for the tourism sector through market transformation.