The Budongo ecotourism site has been nominated for the upcoming ‘Tourism for Tomorrow’ Awards scheduled for May in Las Vegas, USA.
The site, nominated among the 12 finalists, is credited for creating and implementing a business model that protects the environment and delivers tangible social and economic benefits to local communities. The Budongo ecotourism project is operated under a tripartite agreement of Great Lakes Safaris, Jane Goodall Institute and National Forestry Authority.
The Awards held on an annual basis are organized by the World Tourism and Travel Council. The nomination could be a welcome publicity boost for Uganda’s tourism sector that is struggling with low global rankings. The poor ranking according to analysts is a result of government’s failure to prioritize the sector.
Mr Amos Wekesa the director of Great Lakes Safaris said the project is intended to create channels through which, people around the forest would earn without cutting the trees. He said, the facility that was hired to Great lakes pays up about Shs150 million to National Forestry Authority up from a dismal Shs12 million that NFA used to make from the facility. The facility employs about 63 people out of which 95 per cent local inhabitants.
The project has sections reserved for forestry with over 406 species of trees and a newly launched section of bird watching that was launched last week.
The minister of Water and Environment, Ms Maria Mutagamba commended the project’s managers during the launch of the bird watching section for complementing the government’s efforts of promoting tourism in the country.
Maria Mutagamba said: “Uganda loses up to 90,000 hectares of forest cover annually due to unsustainable tree-cutting.” This she said has adversely affected climate resulting into prolonged drought, receding water levels and floods in other parts of the country.
Compiled by Jackie