UGANDA TOURISM BOARD (UTB) HITS BACK AT NKORE CULTURAL TRUST – UGANDA SAFARI NEWS
The Prime Minister of the defunct Kingdom of Ankole Dr. Katatumba who is also the chairman of Nkore Cultural Trust (NCT) wrote in dissatisfaction of the Uganda Tourism Board efforts to develop the heritage of Ankole especially the Mugaba palace as tourism products that can be encountered by tourists while on Uganda safari tours citing failure of the UTB to involve the NCT in these efforts. The Kingdoms Prime Minister noted that the Nkore Cultural Trust had already expressed interest in developing these sites that would revamp cultural tourism in the region and at national level to augment the traditional gorilla trekking safaris and wildlife safaris in Uganda. Thus, the UTB’s interest in taking over the process without involving closely the care takers of these cultural assets was not in any way welcomed by NCT.
In return, the Chairman of Uganda Tourism Board Mr. James Tumusiime responded towards the Ankole Prime Minister’s views by noting that the Prime Minister misinterpreted the UTB’s intentions of restoration of Mugaba palace. He noted that the saga arises from the recently held work shop of Greater Ankole Tourism Network (GANTONE) – a regional tourism cluster that is collaborating with UTB to promote tourism in the area of Ankole through engaging stakeholders, skill acquisition regarding tourism enterprise management, tourism resource identification and their development so as to increase the expenditure of travellers on safari holidays in Uganda in the region.
During this workshop, Mugaba palace was raised as one of the potential tourist attractions in the area. Even though the palace is in a bad state following a long period of abandonment after the abolition of the Kingdoms in 1967, the palace still has great cultural significance and thus can be developed for tourism. Considering the acrimonious disputes that exist amongst the groups of the Banyankole that differ in terms of the monarchical doctrine, the central government has kept a deaf ear for the situation to materialize. However, as this situation is still at standstill many people are appealing that the buildings should be repaired and put into use, Mr. Tumusiime notes. This has attracted the interest of UTB so as to tap this potential that will not only relieve Mbarara residents and travellers to the town the chronic eyesore of the dilapidated structures that have given a bad image to the town and the Banyankole in general but also create employment for the local people that will engage themselves in tourism ventures like guiding, craft making among others. Mr. Tumusiime cites other parts of the world where the Kingdoms were lost longtime ago but the palaces and castles continue to generate huge sums of money for those countries for example the palace of King Rudahigwa in Nyanza, Rwanda.
Mr. Tumusiime notes that Dr. Katatumba is confusing the ownership of the buildings and the drive to repair them and promote them as a tourist site so as to increase safaris to Uganda. UTB has no mandate to own Uganda safari attractions but it is charged with the duty of identifying them, engaging stakeholders in developing and promoting them and eventually ensuring quality standards for the management of these attractions. Just like it does not own national parks, Mountains or source of the Nile among other attractions encountered on safaris in Uganda, so shall it be for the Mugaba palace. Apparently, the site is under the control of the department of Museums and Monuments in the Ministry of Tourism of which UTB is working with the Ministry to mobilize for resources that will see the site rehabilitated after which the role of NCT will come in to contributing ideas that will shape the identity of the project which will definitely result in to a win-win situation for the Banyankole in general. Thus, by resisting the rehabilitation of the site because they haven’t been allowed to own them, Dr. Katatumba and his group will be shooting themselves in the foot.
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