Development partners and the Uganda Wildlife Authority have finalized plans for development and transformation of Ruhija and Rushaga sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP)as sprawling tourism destinations not only for mountain gorillas but a diversity of products.
According to Rob Hicks, a consultant with Robford Tourism, Gorilla tourism has been a success story in Uganda but more needs to be done to turn the country into a good value for money destination. He says the new plans will address inadequate accommodation facilities, the guiding services, explore new tourism attractions like the picturesque lakes and forest elephants and the notion of Participatory Environment Research Tourism (PERT), experiential Tourism and birding.
Hicks says Mountain Gorillas are is a unique, ”must see” product but tracking them requires better access roads, auxiliary commercial tourism support services, high standards of services and amenities and diversification of gorilla products as well as community benefits.
Among the facilities recommended for development include a canopy Trail located in a strategic place ,creation of a hi-tech resource centre where visitors will access the World wide web, leisure parks for trading, guiding, future use zone and a transitory facility where visitors both during the day and at night .It also recommends facilities for low, middle and high income classes of visitors.
According to Mr. Stephen Asuma the country director for International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) which is the main sponsor for the plans, the plans are to be submitted to UWA plus the local governments of Kabale and Kisoro districts for implementation.
Mr. Stephen Masaba, the acting Director Tourism and Business Services at UWA says the plans once approved will be incorporated in the organization’s General Management Plan(GMP) for implementation.