The defunct Ankole Kingdom Palace is set for a major facelift after Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities revealed that it is seeking for Shs3bn to carry out repairs on it with the aim of attracting tourists.
In January 2020, Godfrey Kiwanda, State Minister for Tourism revealed the government plan to repair Ankole Kingdom Palace while appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry during the consideration of the national budget framework paper.
The Ministry listed the development of Mugaba cultural heritage site which is former palace for the King of Ankole Kingdom as one of the unfunded priorities whose funding was yet to be provided by the Ministry of Finance for the 2020/2021 budget.
Doreen Katusiime, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism has defended the proposal, telling the Committee that the site has been under development since 2017 and its completion has been delayed by limited funding.
Once operationalized, Government says the site will be added to the tourism products along the circuit and will be key in generating revenue for Government.
“Tourism product development is key in enticing tourists to stay longer and even make repeated visits. This is still a challenge for the industry, as the average length of stay has stagnated at 7days. Our industry is operating in an increasingly competitive regional and global village,” Katusiime said.
However, the proposal was met with mixed reactions from the Committee, after MPs questioned the motive behind the repairs on a palace of a defunct kingdom having ceased to exist in 1967.
Some MPs from the defunct Ankole kingdom backed the proposal, saying it will help give chance to the people from Ankole trace their origin, a privilege they were denied by former President Milton Obote when he abolished all kingdoms in 1967.
The Ministry of Tourism is also seeking for an additional Shs3bn to develop the Kitagata hot springs in Sheema district that fall under Ankole kingdom and turn the site as model tourism product.
Government is set to spend Shs2Bn to establish Kafu tourist stopover as a model stopover to guide the private investments in stopovers. The funds are set to cover landscaping, fencing, construction of parking space, structures including establishment of a souvenir and crafts center.
Additionally, Shs5bn is needed to re-develop the Source of the Nile as a world class tourist attraction site and turn it into a modern international and domestic tourism center.