who visits Uganda?

Around 75% of all visitors to Uganda come from another African country (especially East Africa), and the remainder are Europeans (13%), Americans (6%), and Asians (4%)*.

The increase in visitors in recent years appears to driven mainly by an increase in visitors from the East African region, while the numbers of those from Europe, America, and elsewhere has stayed more or less the same. Approximately 60% of visitors arrive by road, while the other 40% arrive by air.

Visitors to Uganda by region and year

How many of these visitors are tourists?

Of the 840,000 visitors registered in 2008, only 144,000 listed “Leisure, recreation and holidays” as the primary reason for visiting, suggesting that tourists make up a relatively small portion of the visitors the the country. The number of visitors who go to national parks, around 138,000 in 2008, is also fairly good proxy for the number of those who are “tourists”, as opposed to those who are visiting family and friends, doing business, and the like.

For perspective, over 1 million tourists visited Kenya in 2009, and over 700,000 visited Tanzania (2009), and 68,000 holiday-goers visited Rwanda (2010).

Visitors to national parks in Uganda, by year

In Uganda, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison are by far the most popular game parks, and we should probably expect more interest in Murchison in the coming years now that the LRA no longer poses a threat in northern Uganda.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics estimates that tourism expenditure was US$590 million in 2008. This year, the Ministry for Tourism, Trade and Industry was allocated Ush50 billion, or about US$18 million, which amounts to 0.5% of the total budget. The Uganda Tourism Board was allocated US$740,000.

*Statistics above can be found on the UBOS website here. Budget information can be found in the 2011/2012 Background to the Budget, available here. I used an exchange rate of Ushs2700 to the dollar for back-of-the-envelope calculations.

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