ENVIRONMENT

Uganda marks World Tourism Day, to prioritize domestic tourism

The beautiful Lake Kitendara, just after Hunwick’s Camp (3,974 metres) on the way to Margherita Camp (4,495 metres). There are over 20 lakes in the larger Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The lowest and most accessible being Lake Mahoma (2,651m) in the bird-rich forest of the Central Circuit and the highest being Lake Bujuku that is fed by the glaciers of Mounts Stanley, Baker and Speke (PHOTO/Courtesy).

KAMPALA — Uganda on Monday September 27 joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Tourism Day, a day where people world over join together to reflect on the importance and benefits that accrue from tourism.

In the Ugandan context, due to Covid 19, virtual celebrations were held at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala under the theme, “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”

The day focused on improving and marketing the sector to local tourists amid the aftereffects of Covid-19.

State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Mugarra Martin Bahenduka who presided over the event as the chief guest said the national focus is going to be placed on ensuring that local people participate in tourism activities.

“The most critical issue now is the impact that covid19 has had on the tourism sector….we have all agreed that to have a more resilient tourism sector especially through challenges like covid19, is by developing and promoting domestic tourism,” he said.

“We are celebrating our own attractions and calling upon Ugandans, please and tour this beautiful country,” he said, noting, “You will also be making a contribution to the economy and the sector.

“We have tailored particular packages that a more pocket friendly for the domestic consumer.”

Bahenduka noted that the ministry is looking at ensuring that the revenue sharing program goes down to benefit the local people surrounding national parks and protected areas as opposed to having the “big shots” benefiting.

Revenue sharing is where the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) shares some of the money it earns from tourism with communities neighbouring the national parks and wildlife reserves.

The amount of money varies depending on the number of tourists who visit the parks. The money from revenue sharing is sent by UWA to the districts that keep 5 percent to cover administration costs and pass the remaining 95 percent on to the sub counties for the agreed projects.

On his part, Mr. David Duli Uganda Country Director World Wildlife Fund called for an urgent need to rethink the current tourism model from one that over-depletes natural resources to one that will simultaneously deliver environmental sustainability, economic growth without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.

Mr. Duli said that the country should adopt a green tourism development model which seeks to reduce negative environmental impact and promote safety and ultimately leading to environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable enterprises and economies present a unique opportunity for Uganda’s accelerated economic growth and transition in an environmentally sustainable manner.

“We are looking at sustainability, something that can go on and on… without being destroyed. How do you manage consumptive use under tourism without depleting the resources of tourism? Those are the critical things we need to look at,” he said.

Mr. Duli added that Uganda can achieve even greater prosperity and well-being by scaling up its green investments in key sectors, while also factoring the conservation and efficient use of its natural capital into future decisions.

He also outlined the benefits of scaling up agroforestry and sustainable water management and recommends supporting organic farming among others in the green tourism development path.

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