Martin Mugarra with Fun Cycling team at Uganda Media Center
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is to construct hotels in some of Uganda’s protected areas as a way of promoting domestic tourism, thanks to an agreement with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
State Minister for Tourism, Martin Mugarra Bahinduka says that the high costs of accommodation and transportation to tourism sites have remained some of the major barriers to domestic tourism in Uganda. More than 60 per cent of the tourists at attractions in Uganda are foreigners, yet the same sites remain unaffordable for the Ugandan population.
He says that picking from experiences in the COVID-19 lockdown when international travel was restricted and greatly affected the movement of tourists from overseas, the ministry is considering domestic tourism as more reliable during such a global emergency.
Records show that although the tourism industry was one of the most stable and growing industries in Uganda before the ouy6vreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel occupancy rates dropped from an average of 58 per cent to as low as 5 per cent, after the outbreak. Tourists reportedly cancelled more than 75 per cent of hotel bookings (448,996) by the end of June 2020, six months after the pandemic hit the world.
Minister Mugarra told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday that the ministry is considering a new plan that will turn around the hospitality industry to9 make it attractive for the locals and reduce the competition for a few service providers.
Mugarra says that the Ministry has now requested that part of the land within national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries among others, should be apportioned for the construction of hotels. He further explains that the ministry is seeking partners to ensure minimal transport charges for domestic tourists as an incentive for more tour travel.
The Minister will be joining a Uganda Tourist Company, Breathtaking team to places such as Lake Mburo National Park, Igongo Country Home and Museum, Great Lakes Museum and Little Ritz Hotel in Kabale among others, as a celebration of Uganda’s 59th Independence day this week.
Ras B Ssali, a cyclist from Fun Cycling Uganda notes that Ugandans can embrace affordable trips with bicycles which give them the liberty to see a number of places while on the road.