Heads of some of the world’s leading responsible tourism companies are arriving in Uganda alongside philanthropists and international financiers for a ground-breaking gathering aimed at safeguarding Uganda’s protected areas.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to host more than 200 delegates at the Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa on Friday 6 October.
Those expected to attend include Britain’s former Finance Minister George Osborne, Russian rich businessman Alexander Lebedev, the Executive Director of UN Environment Erik Solheim and Dubai based financier Richard Poulden who runs a series of multi-million dollar companies.
They will be joined by senior figures running tourism and conservation businesses specialising in value operations dedicated to protecting environments and bringing greater benefits to local communities.
Karim Wissanji, Founder and CEO of Elewana Afrika, Patrick Fitzgibbon, Senior Vice President for Africa and Europe, the Hilton Group, David Stogdale, Managing Director, Great Plains Conservation and Andrew Parker the Director of Conservation Development, Africa Parks.
“The Uganda ‘Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum’ is aimed at launching a new initiative to attract tourism to Uganda. Tourism has distinguished itself as a productive sector with the ability to transform Uganda from a predominantly peasant society to middle income level,” President Museveni said recently.
The President also said that government will create incentives for the investors, both domestic and international, as part of the inward investment provided by them and under the Public Private Partnership Policy.
In addition, Museveni said government has created this platform to link domestic and international players to invest in Uganda’s tourism.
The Tourism Investment Forum seeks to find innovative ways for Uganda to finance the protection of its natural landscapes, and the country’s unique wildlife, with private sector partnerships.
“Uganda is truly a treasure in terms of the beauty and the biodiversity of its natural wildernesses, and their potential as economic assets to benefit the country as a whole,” said Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the conservation charity behind the Giants Club.
He commended President Museveni, and government for taking a step to invite the private sector to Uganda to forge partnerships in the protection of Uganda’s conservation estate, for their own profit and that of the country.
On his part, Stephen Asiimwe, the CEO of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) says; “Top investment firms and institutions are going to create and bring world class standards and facilities in our parks. They have great marketing strategies that will complement our existing strategies on global visibility.”
Beyond the national benefit, Asiimwe said communities will have jobs all the way from the farmers who will provide the food to the facilities, to the other investors who will set up other mid and budget range facilities.
“Everybody stands to gain from these investments. There will be a growth in number of people directly and indirectly employed in the tourism sector,” he added.
“But more important, the presence of these high end tourism investments will trigger auxiliary developments to serve the communities, the workers, and the tourists who may not necessarily stay in the high end accommodation.”
New tourism concessions are available in well-known locations like Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks , as well as lesser-visited ones like Kibale , with its chimpanzees, or Kidepo Valley , on Uganda’s northern border.
Many concession areas have not been available for new investors for more than 30 years. A new Conservation Investment Delivery Unit supported by the Office of the President and housed at the Uganda Investment Authority will help interested businesses with streamlined and centralised bureaucracy to speed their applications.