The Ssese islands are set to generate more revenue from tourist activities after the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) said it would intervene and attract tourists to the area.
During a recent fact-finding trip to Kalangala, the deputy CEO of UTB, John Ssempebwa, said the islands had great potential for tourism but a lot needed to be done. The body has already joined hands with Ssese Islands Nature Conservation and Tourism Association (Sencata) to promote tourism and conservation on the islands.
There is untapped potential for activities like sport fishing, quad biking, boat cruising, camping, among others. Tourists can also visit caves, take nature walks and visit cultural sites such as Mukasa and Wanema’s shrines plus the numerous sites for religious tourism in Bugoma and Bumangi.
UTB has organised a meeting for all stakeholders scheduled for late April, where the Ssese tourism cluster will be launched. Everyone with a role to play in the sector from the boda boda riders, hotel owners, to district leaders are expected to attend the event.
In addition, a team from UTB will be dispatched to inspect all the accommodation facilities and highlight areas that need improvement. This will help standardise the accommodation facilities. He also noted that the island did not have tour guides. There is need to mobilise youths that speak basic English to be trained in order to guide tourists.
“The rejuvenation of tourism at the islands will also help reduce the number of the unemployed, especially the women,” he said. There is an opportunity for starting up craft shops that are currently non-existent, which will in turn provide employment. “We are going to train them on what souvenirs to make and how to produce them cheaply,” he said.
As of now, visitors to the island leave without a single souvenir. Ssempebwa also noted that there was a lot of work that needed to be done on the pier at Lutoboka. With the ferry in Entebbe (Nakiwogo) now in operation, it is expected there will be more tourists going into Ssese through Lutoboka pier than through Masaka. So, there is a need to engage investors in making the pier visibly satisfying.
“This place has the capacity to receive 2,000 visitors per week, which can translate into 100,000-plus per year,” he noted.
According to Maurice Bafiirawala Kiggundu, a native of Kalangala and also the senior environment officer, the biggest setbacks have been the lack of interconnectivity between the islands there is no telephone network coverage on some islands.
Source : The Observer