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Uganda Wildlife Authority Signs New Agreements to Support Conservation Tourism

image courtesy of UWA

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has today signed concession agreements with Wildplaces Africa and Tian Tang Group to develop high-end tourism accommodation facilities in Murchison Falls National Park and Kyambura Wildlife Reserve in the Queen Elizabeth Protected Area.

The signing ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Col. Tom Butime, at the Ministry Offices in Kampala. The event was attended by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Doreen Katusiime; Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, Dr. Panta Kasoma; Acting Executive Director of UWA, John Makombo; and the Country Director for the conservation NGO Space for Giants, Justus Karuhanga; among others.

The concession agreements were signed as a result of an initiative between Space for Giants and the Uganda Wildlife Authority to attract conservation-supporting tourism providers to invest in Uganda’s National Parks. Launched by HE Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, the Giants Club Conservation Investment Initiative seeks to find new sources of finance to help support the Uganda Wildlife Authority deliver on its mandate successfully, for example by expanding tourism in protected areas.

Hon. Butime was happy to note that Uganda is continuing to attract investors in high-end accommodation facilities in protected areas saying that these would market destination Uganda and specific protected areas where they have investments. He said: “Am optimistic that:

“High-end investors will attract high-profile visitors and returns to the country while maintaining conservation and environmental integrity.”

He urged the investors to ensure that they complete their investments in the agreed time as stipulated in the concession agreements signed.

The Minister further explained that the government launched a national brand which will guide the promotion of destination Uganda and urged them to acquaint themselves with it. “The Tourism Ministry recently launched the national brand, Explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. This will give direction on our marketing strategy and harmonize efforts.”

The Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, Dr. Pantaleon Kasoma, who signed on behalf of UWA, said that the authority has confidence that the investors will commence and finish construction in time and promote the protected areas as tourism destinations. He said that apart from contributing to national development, investments inside protected areas generate revenue for UWA to do conservation work.

Space for Giants Country Director, Justus Karuhanga, said: “It’s an important milestone to see the first contracts signed by UWA under the Giants Club Conservation Investment Initative. The pandemic and its impact on tourism has made it challenging, but today we see once again how conservation-minded investors wish to invest in Uganda’s natural beauty. This will raise money for UWA and create jobs and investment for the country. We are working hard to ensure many further similar announcements in the coming months.”

The Managing Director of Wildplaces Africa, Jonathan Wright, expressed appreciation to the initiative for putting in place an investment climate that has motivated them to add more investments in Uganda in addition to others that they already have. He observed the need for high-end hotels that will attract visitors who will bring into the country the resources needed to support wildlife conservation. “High-end lodges offer high-quality services that will attract people to the country; when these people come, they leave behind [a] substantial amount of money; that is what UWA needs at the moment,” he said.

The Deputy General Manager of Tian Tang Group, Shawn Lee, said that after successfully investing in other sectors including manufacturing, they are excited to invest in UWA protected areas, adding that they would attract many Chinese visitors to Uganda. He revealed that they plan to have the facility in Murchison Falls National Park complete at the end of this year.

The signing of the concessions agreements follows a request of expression of interest to invest in UWA protected areas in 2020. The two companies met all the requirements.

Tian Tang Group won a 20-year concession to develop and operate a 44-bed high-end/low-impact accommodation facility at Kulunyang in Murchison Falls National Park on the Southern Bank. Wildplaces won two 20-year concessions – one for developing high-end/low-impact 24-bed luxury tented camps at the Kibaa Southern Bank of Murchison Falls National Park and Katole, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve in the Queen Elizabeth Protected area.

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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