A recent meeting between the president and key stakeholders in the tourism sector saw pertinent issues raised. Amos Wekesa, a re-known tourism enthusiast and entrepreneur used the chance to speak up about the impact of the coronavirus on the sector. Wekesa asked the President why the tourism sector was still being taxed yet they weren’t working as much. This he later would explain once the President had directed the tourism officials to look into more flexible ways to deal with the issue.
“I think we have had a very good discussion with the president,” he said after the directive. “The president has given a direction that tourism ministry find a way of saving the tourism industry find a way of saving the industry.” He said that in other countries, governments were doing more than just mitigate the impact on health alone. “You seeing what is happening to countries like the UK, it reduced their interest rates from 0.7% to 0.25%,” he said. “Italy has said no payment of mortgages as long as the virus is continuing.”
In Uganda, though no coronavirus case has been confirmed, Wekesa worries the bite is deep. “Now for Uganda, the tour operators are actually laying off our employees,” he said. “I know that for sure yesterday three lodges put off 70% of their stuff.” He worried the impact starts from the community but then becomes a national issue. “That means these kids are going to be very desperate in the villages and millions of people are gonna lose opportunities,” he said. “Because tourism is not just lodges and so on and forth.”
To explain the impact further, he traces the impact from the airport, all the way to the eateries. “What this means is that airport will not be getting the $50,” he started. “They will not be getting the landing fee, the petrol station will not be getting the fuel that was being bought by tourists.” He added that also while the restaurants won’t get the people to eat, the hotels will miss the room bookings, but generally, the pinch will be felt because tourists mostly spend more.