Kiruhura, Uganda – Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Minister, Col. (Rtd.) Tom Butiime has appealed to Ugandans to embrace local tourism so as to give the sector the major boost it needs to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Butiime made the remarks on Friday during the launch of Kigambira Safari Lodge in Lake Mburo National Park, western Uganda where he was chief guest.
The lodge is owned by Brigadier Charles Bakahumura under his Karungi Crown Limited company.
“I implore Ugandans to embrace local tourism to improve the sector. The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact but the sector will bounce back stronger,” Butiime said.
He added, while praising Bakahumura that his decision to invest in the sector should inspire other Ugandans to do the same.
A number of dignitaries and stakeholders attended the function including; Ambassadors (French and Belgium), Business leaders, local government officials, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Tourism Board-UTB, Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association, Association of Uganda Tour Operators, members of UPDF, local communities among many.
Speaking at the colourful ceremony, Bakahumura, former CMI boss, said it had always been a dream to invest in the sector and is happy that his dream has come true.
“Working in government doesn’t stop one from having something on the side to earn an extra income,” Bakahumura said of his vision to establish the lodge.
He added, “Me and my wife had a dream to invest in tourism. I looked at it as a way to help me and my family especially after I have retired as a military officer.”
He went on to reveal that the steps to live his dream saw him respond to an advert placed in the newspapers in 2014 asking potential investors to invest in Lake Mburo National Park.
Kigambira Safari Lodge whose construction took off in 2016, is the first lodge in the park to be set up in the last five years, something the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) boss, Sam Mwandha credited Bakahumura for.
He also reassured Ugandans that despite reports of reduced numbers, animal populations in the parks are on the rise.
On poaching, he said the Wildlife Act 2019 contains stringent measures to deal with culprits.
The board chairman of UWA, Dr. Panter Kasoma called on other investors to ‘put their money in the tourism sector’ and develop Uganda.
Susan Muhwezi, the head of Uganda Hotel Owners Association, used the occasion to appeal to government for support.
“The tourism sector needs support from government. You need to speak for tourism, it is the future of Uganda,” Susan said.
She also appealed to government to reverse the taxation policy on the sector which she said is discouraging potential investors.
The Belgian Ambassador who represented the European Union delegation, appealed to Ugandans to live up to the billing of the Pearl of Africa and ‘polish the pearl.’
“Poaching has increased many folds because of poverty caused by the COVID19 pandemic. Parks need to be protected from poaching. However, it is heart-warming to note that Ugandan investors are coming up to invest in the sector. Last year, tourism represented 7% of GDP. More and better lodges will increase the country’s GDP,” H.E. Rudi Veestraeten said.
Kigambira Safari Lodge boasts of 12 guest bandas comprising of 01 Honeymoon suite, 02 Family houses, 05 Deluxe bandas and 04 Double Deluxe Bandas with a total capacity of 20 beds only.
There is a blend of a wooden floor and veranda, rustic furniture and timber in cabins, chests next to the beds and rustic mirrors in the bathrooms.
The wildlife can be seen on day and night game drives. The eastern shores of Lake Mburo can be explored by boat, departing from a jetty at the lakeside campsite near Rwonyo Rest Camp.
Lake Mburo National Park is a national park located in Nyabushozi County, Kiruhura District near Mbarara in Uganda.
Here are some pictures from the inauguration