The ministry of tourism plans to develop potential tourist sites upcountry. The plan, according to the tourism state minister, Serapio Rukundo, involves establishing world-class facilities for visitors.
The minister, who was inspecting prospective sites in the countryside, told Arua district local leaders on Wednesday that he was waiting for approval from the finance ministry to start implementing the project.
He explained that the plan would be supported by the government’s increased funding to the road sector to link major tourism sites across the country.
“While the Government is working on the roads, we have asked them to work on what we have prescribed as tourism roads. So that when a tourist leaves Kampala, they can traverse the country without necessarily going back to the capital,” Rukundo said.
He announced that the ministry had set aside funds to establish at least 10 five-star hotels in different regions and also procure 100 tourism vehicles under a private-public partnership arrangement.
Rukundo said they were also in talks with the finance ministry to waive taxes on cars, which will be bought and given to private tour operators under a hire-purchase system.
Rukundo added on that the Government would ask established hotels such as Serena and Sheraton to open more facilities upcountry. He noted that the country had been divided into tourism zones, the first being Kigezi, with scenic sites at Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi forests for gorilla tracking and Ishasha, with its tree-climbing lions.
The second zone, dubbed the Rift Valley Zone, covers part of Queen Elizabeth national park and the Semiliki reserves. The third zone stretches from Murchison Falls national park through the West Nile region.
The other zone covers the eastern region, with Mt Elgon as one of the main attractions.
Kampala is being developed into a short haul base. Tourists based in Kampala will be able to visit the rhinos and hippos in Nakasongola district or the Ssese Islands and return to Kampala the same day, the minister explained.
Rukundo said that there are also plans that are underway to reintroduce rhinos in the 164 square-kilometer Ajai game reserve.