The Role of Public Sector in Tourism Development

Tourism in Uganda

There are different definitions for the word tourism, which according to Mathieson and Wall (1982: p1) is the temporally movement of people to destinations outside their normal places of work and residence, and activities under taken during their stay in this destinations and facilities are created to cater for their needs.

Cooper et al (1993) defines tourism as a multi dimensional activity, which touches many lives and different economic development as it interferes in a number of sectors leading to development.

Tourism is also defined as a set of activities of a person traveling to a place out side his or her usual environment for less than a year and whose purpose of travel is other than the exercise of an activity renumerated from the place visited.

According to leiper’s model, tourism can be thought of as a wide range of individuals’, businesses, organizations and places that combine in some way to the deliver a travel experience.

Tourism is defined as the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.
The use of this broad concept makes it possible to identify tourism between countries as well as tourism within a country. “Tourism” refers to all activities of visitors, including both “tourists (overnight visitors)” and “same-day visitors”. (World Tourism Organisation-WTO)

Leisure however is from a Latin word “Licere” which means “to be permitted” or “to be free”. The French word “Loisir” means “Free time”, and the English words “License” and “Liberty”.

George Tokildsen (1992) also defines leisure as freedom from constraint, opportunity to choose time left over work or other free time after obligatory social duties have been met.

Leisure is defined as free time spent doing what a person enjoys when not working or studying. Parker (1976) sees leisure as encompassing of activities that are characterized by feeling of cooperative freedom.

Tourism is a complex trade covering all movements of people outside their own community for all purposes except migration or regular daily work. The growth of tourism and leisure to a large industry has led to tourism becoming increasingly sophisticated. Therefore there is need for investment of both private and public sectors in the economy. Tourism and leisure is completely dependent on government
and its agencies, to provide infrastructure, like roads, airports, facilities and incentives for growth and development.


The public sector is that part of economic and administrative life that deals with the delivery of goods and services by and for the government, whether national, regional or local/municipal.
The government of Uganda is committed to developing the economic, social and cultural sectors of Uganda. The government took over many abandoned or formerly expropriated companies in 1986 and formed new parastatal enterprises. In an effort to bring development, the government has attracted foreign assistance and is rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure. The public sector in tourism is concerned with national benefits presented through politics, which can embrace economic factors like balance of payments and employment.

Tourism is subject to direct and indirect government intervention primarily because of its employment and income producing possibilities. There have been increasing demands from conservative national governments and economic rationalists for greater Industry self-sufficiency in tourism marketing and promotion. (Jeffries 1989).

Tourism has become an integral part of the machinery of many modern governments, and of many government programmes in both developed and lesser-developed countries. (Lea 1988, Pearce 1992, Richter1989).

Tourism and leisure are an essential part of the economic development strategies of the local state. The development of urban corporations and enterprises rejuvenates the growth of inner city leisure spaces, festival market places, casino’s, conference centres, sports stadia, botanical gardens and golf courses. These developments attract tourists and new investments, thus promoting themselves as attractive places to live, work, invest and play (Tourism and public policy-colin Micheal Hall and John M. Jenkins).

Government is the focus of demands articulated through a variety of structures and channels including significant individuals, institutions, and the media (Tourism and public policy- Collin Michael Hall).

Diagram of the public administration.
This diagram shows the elements of public administration and their relations to each other. These sectors of Administration are responsible for supervising operations, putting them into practice (e.g. taxation and employment), and responsibility at the operational level (e.g. education, health care).


The Government shall continue to make a concerted effort to strengthen the protected areas through further financial support. Government, donors and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be supported to enhance the capabilities on the local level of protecting and developing valuable natural and cultural resources shall provide support to the districts for sustainable tourism growth (Uganda Tourism Policy 1991-Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry)

The Brazilian Ministry of Labour, with funds from the Worker Assistance Fund (FAT)
established the National Professional Tourism Education Programme. Over the past three years the programme has been used to provide a large body of professionals in various tourism-related activities and is expected to lead to greater numbers of local people being engaged in employment in national parks and reserves. (C. Jonsson: General developments in the ecotourism sector – Focusing on Brazil, Paper produced for the ILO, 2000)

The role of Public Sector in Nepal has been limited to policy making, guidance, monitoring of tourism industry except Royal Nepal Airlines unlike in other countries where Public Sector itself involved in operating hotels, travel agencies and airlines. As in 2003, Nepal had 966 good hotels registered with government, which provide 20,063 rooms and 38,270 beds respectively. Similarly, there are 788 travel agencies, 645 trekking agencies and 90 rafting agencies in Nepal. (Employee development in tourism hospitality-a comparative study of hotel employment and employee development; Leonardo da Vinci Programme, 2000.)

The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande River in the southwestern part of the country attracts 100,000 visitors annually and contributes around US$14 million to the local economy each year. (H. Youth: “Watching vs. taking”, in World Watch, Washington; May/June 2000)

In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC)-the National Tourism Organization (NTO) was created in 1972 with duel responsibility-creation of infrastructure and development and operation of tours as a public sector. (Bangladesh report on Review of Tourism: 1992)

The Kenya Wildlife Service’s mission is to work with others to sustainably conserve, protect and manage Kenya’s invaluable bio-diversity for the benefit of the locals and as a world heritage. This is a task it has taken to serve on the tourism front. (Protecting Kenya’s Bio-diversity for the Tourism Sector; Journal for the Hospitality Industry)

Public sector Role in management of tourism and Leisure

Uganda is competing on the World market and to penetrate this market it is necessary to offer good quality products at a competitive price but most of all to offer unique products with a Ugandan approach. It is, however, not enough just to have the right product; Government must support the tourism sector, provide security and provide a conducive environment. The government, in its leadership role, has always been known to spearhead and pioneer tourism development, by laying the infrastructural foundation, providing the legislative, physical, fiscal, social and environmental framework. Regulating, facilitating, policy making, definition and formulation of policy, implementation, coordination, evaluation and planning in development, promotion and sustainability of tourism and Leisure. The Ugandan government has traditionally done this through several measures.

The Government of Uganda through the implementation of policies like the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) has developed leisure and tourism. Through guiding the formulation of government policy, the public sector is eradicating poor health and limited education. In 1992 nearly 56 percent of Ugandans were below the poverty line, there was wide spread poaching in National parks and low levels of skilled labour. By 1996 this figure had fallen to 46 percent. The sharpest fall was in the central and western regions, while the eastern and northern regions experienced more modest declines in poverty. (Uganda Human Development report 2005) DanieL Kalinaki a reporter of the Monitor Newspaper said that the absolute number of people living in absolute poverty reduced marginally, from 9.3 million to 9 million over the period of 1992 to 2003. Government through the Ministry of finance and Economic development is using organizations like Uganda community Tourism association (UCOTA) to involve the local community in tourism development and increasing household incomes. The theme for this year’s budget (2006/2007) is ‘Enhancing Economic Growth and Households Incomes through Increased Production and Productivity’ as read by Minister of Finance, planning and Economic Development Dr. Ezra Suruma. People earn income through entertainment like Ndeere troupe, markets, community campsites and crafts like the craft village, therefore increasing the involvement of local communities in tourism related activities, Selective training is encouraged for local communities in business development and in partnership development with UWA, UFA and other organisations. (Poverty Eradication Action Plan-2004/5-2007/8) These government organisations conserve and sustainably manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with neighborhood communities and other stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community, which enhances tourism and leisure development.