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Africa: Uganda Tourism Minister Tom Butime retained in new cabinet

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The Uganda President has finally named his long-anticipated Cabinet Ministers retaining Colonel (Retired) Tom Butime as Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA).

According to eturbonews.com, Tom Butime has been retained in the new cabinet following the recent swearing in of President Yoweri T. K Museveni on May 12, 2021. Butime will serve a 5-year term from 2021-2026.

The Tourism Minister has stewarded the tourism sector since 2019 through its most challenging since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Long serving State Minister Suubi Kiwanda, however, has been replaced by newcomer Bahinduka Mugarra Member of parliament for the Ntoroko District.

READ: Africa: Uganda Tourism Board issues guidelines on tourists vans during inter-district travel ban to combat COVID surge

Women have been appointed to key posts including Major (Retired) Jesica Alupo as the Vice President, former State Minister for Health Robinah Nabanja as the Prime Minister and Head of Government, and the former Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga as First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs.

Butime who has been Tourism Minister since 2019 has stewarded the tourism sector through its most challenging since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in 2020 with tourism earnings dropping by 73 percent from US$1.6 billion to US$0.5 billion with visitors numbers by 69.3 percent from 1,542,620 to 473,085 and employment by 70 percent from 536,600 jobs to 160,980.

READ: Africa: Uganda look towards tourism rebound as sector generates UGX6billion ($2m) in 3months in 2021, 16.8% tourists

In order to resuscitate the sector from ICU, (Intensive Care Unit), the government took the following interventions at the height of the pandemic.

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 Uganda Tourism Board.

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.

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