GIANTS CLUB SET FOR MEETING ON THE SHORES OF LAKE VICTORIA
(Posted 05th October 2017)
The heads of some of the world’s leading responsible tourism companies are arriving in Uganda alongside philanthropists and international financiers for a ground-breaking gathering aimed at safeguarding Uganda’s protected areas.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will host more than 200 delegates at the Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa on Friday 06th of October.
‘The Uganda ‘Giants Club Conservation and Tourism Investment Forum’ is aimed at launching a new initiative to attract tourism into Uganda. Tourism has distinguished itself as a productive sector with the ability to transform Uganda from a predominantly peasant society to middle income level‘ President Museveni said.
He added that Government has created this platform to link up domestic and international players to invest in Uganda’s tourism sector.
Among those to attend are George Osborne, Britain’s former finance minister, Alexander Lebedev, one of Russia’s richest businessmen, Erik Solheim, the executive director of UN Environment and Richard Poulden, a Dubai-based financier.
They will be joined by senior figures running tourism and conservation businesses specialising in low-impact, high-value operations dedicated to protecting environments and bringing greater benefits to local communities. They include:
1. Karim Wissanji, Founder and CEO of Elewana Afrika
2. Patrick Fitzgibbon, Senior Vice President for Africa and Europe, the Hilton Group
3. David Stogdale, Managing Director, Great Plains Conservation
4. Andrew Parker, Director of Conservation Development, Africa Parks
The Forum aims to find innovative ways for Uganda to finance the protection of its natural landscapes, and the country’s unique wildlife, with private sector partnerships. The Ugandan Government, with the Giants Club and the United Nations Development Programme, has identified ten areas that it can offer for new investment.
‘Uganda is truly a treasure in terms of the beauty and the biodiversity of its natural wildernesses, and their potential as economic assets to benefit the country as a whole‘ said Max Graham, CEO of Space for Giants, the conservation charity behind the Giants Club, which is organising the Forum.
‘What’s difficult is finding the money just to protect and maintain them, let alone develop them responsibly so they can fulfil that potential. That’s why we commend President Museveni, and his whole Government, for taking the innovative step of inviting the private sector here to see how they can become partners in the protection of Uganda’s conservation estate, to their own profit but also the country’s and its people’s‘ he concluded.
New tourism concessions will be made available in well-known locations like Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks as well as lesser-visited parks like Kibale with its chimpanzees, or Kidepo Valley located in the border triangle with Kenya and South Sudan.
While all conservation-compatible business proposals will be considered is it expected that the majority of new concessions will provide for new high-end or eco-tourism lodges whose developers pass strict Ugandan Government guidelines overseen by conservation specialists.
Central to those stipulations are that successful bidders will sustainably protect the natural areas where they invest, and bring significant economic benefits to their local communities and to Uganda as a whole.
Other protected areas, including Kyambura Wildlife Reserve and Budongo Forest Reserve that need infrastructure or development to realise their enormous potential will be offered as Co-Management Opportunities, where Public Private Partnerships will seek to attract new international finance.
Many concession areas have not been available for new investors for more than 30 years. A new Conservation Investment Delivery Unit supported by the Office of the President and housed at the Uganda Investment Authority will help interested businesses with streamlined and centralised bureaucracy to speed their applications.