As reported here did the Greater Virunga Transboundary Committee meeting take place in Kampala last week, discussing closer cooperation and harmonized policies and responses to the conservation challenges faced by each of the participant members, UWA from Uganda, RDB Tourism and Conservation from Rwanda and the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature, all of which share responsibility for the management of natural resources in the Virunga Mountains and their environs. Amongst the outcomes was a plan to develop a donor funded visitor centre at Bwindi National Park prompting an immediate outcry by local stakeholders who projected an alleged web of conspiracy against a local visitor centre and cried foul over unfair competition and selfish interests.
A Ugandan official who participated in the meeting at the Protea Kampala Hotel last week however rubbished the claims, saying those who protested failed to understand both the concept of the planned centre as well as the intent and positive impact it would have on tourism to the area and they needed to calmly analyze and study what has been proposed and why.
Gorilla tourism, Ugandas most visible and globally best recognized attraction, has in the past elicited heated exchanges between different stakeholder groups in alleged attempts to redistribute wealth without however changing the fundamentals of existing contracts and agreements already in place and this latest spat only goes to confirm how cutthroat and kneejerk reactions dominate industry relations and the debates when new ideas and proposals are floated. Watch this space.