STATE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT FACES WRATH OF TOURISM FRATERNITY
Carelessly uttered remarks by State Minister for Environment Ms. Flavia Munaba over the weekend in Rakai District, where she officiated over the World Wetland Day under the local theme Wetlands Supporting Tourism for our Survival drew immediate condemnation and acid criticism from hospitality operators, whom the good minister blamed wholesomely for irresponsible development of facilities. This years theme challenges us to think deeper about the immense value of wetlands to eco-tourism sector. We need to take into consideration the different events and human activities that are taking place in and around these valuable wetlands and relate this to whether 50 years from now we will still have the wealth we are enjoying from them currently. Despite all the tremendous work government has accomplished in the area of wetland conservation and management, wetland abuse still continues in a number of areas in the country in particular activities related to irresponsible tourism she was quoted in local media as having said to the disbelief of members of the tourism sector present, some of whom sent immediate text messages to this correspondent in protest.
Said one of those attending over the weekend in a mail message: The minister should not blame tourism businesses for the destruction of wetlands. If she does she knows nothing about our sector going through hell to have projects approved with NEMA on our back throughout. It is not tourism, we care about our natural resources and assets, it is others in industry, discharging toxic affluent in to the rivers and lakes, it is the flower farms encroaching on wetlands like Lutembe Bay, it is developers draining swamps to create new land to build on. NEMA takes on the little people who want to build a tented camp with eco friendly composting toilets and lets the big guys get away with murdering the environment. That minister is so wrong to blame the tourism industry which is the only sector in the economy to appreciate the need to keep our environment intact and protect it while manufacturing, construction and horticulture are the worst offenders. This is the Visit Uganda year and our name should not be tarnished like that just for shooting off her mouth. Were any manufacturers there, or flower growers at that function? I dont think so.
Only last week was it reported here that nearly 600.000 hectares of wetlands have been lost over the past 15 years, according to governments own biomass study report and the main culprits are fingered there, and they are not tourism businesses. This correspondents advice is to watch your mouth and not make careless blanketing accusations Madam Minister against the tourism industry without having ironclad proof. Watch this space.