It recapitalized the sector by providing funds to the UDB (Uganda Development Bank) at low interest rates. However, several businesses except for hotels fell short of the stringent criteria. Freelance tour guides for instance who had been accustomed to the “gig economy” were unable to present audited accounts, National Social Security Compliance, and tax clearance. Less stringent was the “Take on the P.E.A.R.L Innovation Challenge Call” sponsored by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Uganda in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and the Turisi Turisi Komiti Faatino.
The Uganda Tourism Board will support small- and medium-scale businesses as a mechanism to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Several enterprises have been able to diversify into sustainable businesses which applied for the ongoing EU-funded Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator (UGEFA) to support clean energy, waste management, sustainable tourism, and sustainable mobility.
The national parks were not spared the challenges with the killing of a beloved Silverback,Rafiki, in Bwindi Forest national park in April of last year, the poisoning of 6 lions in Queen Elizabeth national park in March of this year, and the suspension of tourism activities at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary over management and lease agreements between the Rhino Fund Uganda and the land owner.
With the sector slowly picking up, stakeholders will look up to the Minister in his new term to kick start the industry post COVID-19. Here is what industry voices had to say about his new term.
Motivator and proprietor of Uganda Lodges and Great Lakes Safaris, Amos Wekesa, said, “I personally think we need to see him more active pushing for budgets for function of different tourism entities. When asked, Wilobo Kenneth of Heritage Lodge Murchison Falls National Park, vented his frustrations on the power supply. He added that “the UDB loan is not easy to get, [and I] have given up.”
Innocent Bisangwa of Ikoro Hotel Kisoro was more critical in saying: “A ministerial reappointment does not excite because government is a collective animal – one mind – and in this case, that of the President. However, to improve tourist numbers, we need quick turnaround per visit; affordable internal flights to tourist destinations or near them. This would entail Uganda Airlines to get appropriate planes for that. [We need] Civil Aviation Authority to improve and upgrade relevant aerodromes. Roads leading to tourist destinations have to be done, too. Roads to Bwindi and Mgahinga don’t seem to embarrass decision-makers.”
O ai Tom Butime?
Tom Butime (born 1947) is a Member of Parliament for Mwenge County Central, Kyenjojo District, in western Uganda. After military training in Libya, Butime joined then rebel leader Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army in 1981 that waged war against President Apollo Milton Obote’s government on February 6, 1981 before capturing power on January 25, 1986.
As a trained journalist majoring in cinematography, he produced “Resistance News,” a pamphlet that the rebels’ external coordinators used to promote their cause before international bodies such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations. Butime, a historical National Resistance Movement (NRM) member, was on the political high command in charge of operating the movements radio station, “Resistance FM,” which became a propaganda tool in the area.
Previous portfolios he has held prior to his latest appointment include Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of State for Refugees and Disaster Preparedness, and Minister of State for International Cooperation and Acting Foreign Affairs Minister. Butime also served as Special District Administrator, Nebbi District neighboring (Murchison Falls), in the late 80s.
His hobby is soccer, with Manchester United as his favorite Premier league side. He also enjoys farming.