Kigezi region is poised to be a tourism hub as government plans to prioritize tourism in the next years, the State Finance Minister in charge of planning, David Bahati has revealed.
“Kigezi is a God’s wonderful creation the Switzerland of Africa with a potential to serve the whole of East Africa,” said Bahati while addressing his constituents of Ndorwa West of Lake Bunyonyi and its surroundings at Bwama Island.
South Western Uganda is endowed with various attractions including diverse nature, culture and heritage and eco-tourism attractions.
This presents the region with numerous tourism opportunities to stimulate economic growth and earning significant revenues from strengthening primary, secondary and tertiary tourism industries.
The tourism industry is expected therefore to play a major role in the economy and a major contributor to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2040.
Africa Development Bank expects tourism to provide enormous employment opportunities directly and in related service industries and earn USD 12bn by 2040.
Bahati said funds from the African Development Bank will be used to construct tourism roads in South Western Uganda including the Kabale – Lake Bunyonyi road – Kabeho circuit, the Kisoro – Mugahinga park gates; and the Katuna – Muko – Ryakarimira road.
Part of the funds will be used to provide two ferries to ease transport needs for residents in Lake Bunyonyi.
Bahati further said government also will in the next five years construct a multi-million Dollar Iron ore and steel plant in Muko- Rubanda district to stop the hemorrhage of over USD 369m in imports of steel.
Bahati is on a campaign trail which he said was as per the NRM party door-to-door vote hunting strategy called “okushenshera” which means “penetrating.”
Minister Bahati said the heavy investment in Kigezi’s infrastructure would mean higher prices for farm produce for Kigezi farmers, increased tourists visiting the region and associated benefits and increased school enrolment since pupils would find it easy to attend schools across the lake.
Ronald Tayebwa, a tour guide and resident of Katoma-Mwendo parish, Kabale district, said the provision of ferries and rescue speed boats at the lake would be a good move since most transport means there have proved to be unreliable and hotels unreachable even for tourists who visit the area.
Plaxender Natuhwera, a business woman and Evas Kyarimpa, a farmer, said the education standards of communities living along the lake would also improve with desirable transport means since children have been suffering on their to school.
“If the ferries come, transporting our agricultural products like, sorghum, Irish potatoes and beans will be made easier,” said Kyarimpa.
“We have had enough suffering in terms of transport due to bad roads,” she added.