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Tourism sector losing up sh300million annually due to unfulfilled concessions

UWA losing out after giving several investors concessions

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The tourism sector is losing over Shillings 300 million worth of business annually due to unfulfilled concessions signed with various developers in the country’s protected areas. To develop the tourism sector, the government, through the Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA, has signed development concession agreements to provide various services to tourists in national parks, including accommodation facilities, under the public-private arrangement.

Currently, UWA reports that over 30 concessions have been signed to provide accommodation, recreation, and collaborative management services. However, eight of these concessions in the accommodation segment remain unfulfilled, and they are beyond the scheduled time. This is despite the fact that this section generates most of the revenue.

The unfulfilled concessions are mainly in the national parks of Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, and Murchison Falls. According to Sam Mwandha, the UWA executive director, some of these dormant concessions were signed as early as 2016, and the developers haven’t shown any sign of fulfilling them. He explains that these concessions are supposed to provide a minimum of 10 rooms each, which translates to 80 rooms from all the concessions.

The revenue generated from this would be at least USD 10 every night, totaling above 300 million every year, but this is still a mere dream.

Mwandha further notes that these developers are holding onto the land and denying would-be immediate developers a chance to access it. He says that the authority is considering the clauses in these agreements to terminate them.

“We have tried to engage them, but they are giving one reason after another, and we are now engaging to utilize the termination clauses in the contracts so that we can release these sites. Some of them are high-quality sites that would have high-end lodge construction, but people are not moving. We have engaged them, and we hope that before the end of the year, they would have started constructing. If they don’t, we will show them the way out,” Mwandha explain3e.

The failure to fulfill these concessions doesn’t only affect income from the accommodation, but also the tourists who occupy these rooms and engage in several other activities from which more money would be generated to the consolidated fund, as well as benefit the host communities.

During the pitching session to potential investors at the recently concluded Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo-POATE, the UWA director warned that the authority will not entertain investors who are not ready for immediate investment. Despite the unfulfilled concessions, the government is still calling for more investors in the tourism sector.

At the pitching session at POATE, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, represented by Paul Mwanja, a commission in the same ministry, highlighted the government’s incentives to tourism investors, as well as the expected results.

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