Ugandan Tourism Body to Develop Hotels in National Parks

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has started a project that will see high end hotels constructed in the protected areas to end accommodation shortage in national parks.

UWA plans to go into joint ventures with potential investors for the development and operation of accommodation facilities in the selected areas.

Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world, growing at a rate of 8% per annum and in Uganda it is the second highest foreign exchange earner after Ugandans in the Diaspora. Information availed by UWA indicates there were 840, 000 tourist arrivals in 2009 and this year there is a target of hitting I million tourist arrivals. “In Uganda there is a 15-20% increase in tourist arrivals per annum. Therefore there is need for recreation and accommodation facilities to keep them longer and keep them coming,” Stephen Masaba the UWA Business Development Manager told East African Business Week in an interview last week. He said the deficit in accommodation is about 50 beds per 100 tourists in the protected areas. Masaba said whereas formerly the accommodation facilities in the protected areas were being run by individuals on a concession basis, they realised they had to get involved to ensure efficiency and generate more revenue for the body.

“Giving out accommodation facilities to be run by individuals affects returns so we want to have good control of what happens through partnering with the private sector,” noted Masaba. Without quoting the amount of money to be invested in the project, he said millions of dollars will be needed. UWA has so far identified eight sites for development in different parks. These include Kidepo Valley, Semuliki, Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls national parks.

The developments will include redeveloping of the Katurum Lodge in Kidepo Valley National Park in northern Uganda, putting up a high end lodge at the Sempaya Hot Springs in Semuliki National Park, south western Uganda which will comprise of a hot spar using hot water from the hot springs and developing a luxury eco-lodge at the foot of Rwenzori Mountains National Park in western Uganda.

Others include development of a luxury lodge and a mid range lodge to cater for the mid range visitors category both in Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda.

There will also be the development of a luxury lodge in Murchison Falls National Park, and an eco-lodge on Kigarama Hills in Lake Mburo National Park, western Uganda.