Communities adjacent to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park get a Tourism Training Centre
Communities adjacent to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park have got a Tourism and Training Centre code-named, “Rwerere Enterprise and Training Centre (RECTC). The benefitting communities include the three parishes of Rukongi and Gitenderi in Nyarusiza sub-county and Gisozi in Muramba Sub-county in KisoroDistrict.
The purpose of the RECTC is to promote tourism, conservation and sustainable livelihood among communities in the BwindiMugahanga Conservation Area (BMCA).
RECTC is a brainchild of transformational tourism that engaged multi-stakeholders to achieve sustainable development and conservation. Construction of the centre started in 2010 and was completed in 2015.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer BwindiMgahingaConservation Trust KakuruPharessaid the structure is composed of the reception area, AmphiTheartre, , Dinning area, the Kitchen and the crafts shop among others.
Mr. Kakuru said,the centre was completed at an estimated budget of shs. 900 million (Phase I shs. 600m and phase II at shs. 300 million) respectively.
“The project was sponsored by the GreatorVirungaTransboundary Collaboration(GVTC) as the major donor, Kisoro District Local Government and Uganda Wildlife Authority as the beneficiaries of the grant to set up the infrastructure and the vision holders plus the Local Community from the three frontline parishes’ adjacent Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (MGNP) who are the final beneficiaries of the activities from RECTC.” He said.
He said the next plan is to bring on board a private sector practitioner to make the structure operational using a business model.
The Tourism Officer Kisoro district Mr. RichardMunezerosaid that communities were allowed to form groups at the center for different activities that will reduce the urge to encroach on the forest. These include reformed poachers, craftsmen, black smiths, herbalists, farmers among others.
‘RECTC will be a one stop centre for activities that are carried out in the area that promote tourism, conservation and sustainable livelihood. The objective is to contribute to the conservation of the Mgahinga forest, contribute to community livelihoods and improve the skills of communities as a tourism centre”, Mr. Munezero said.
The economic activities for sustainable livelihoods earmarked for promotion at the centreaccording to the Tourism Officer include hand crafts made out of local trees, wood, grasses, bamboo, horns, bones and volcanic stones.
The products include baskets, fibre-bags, wood carvings for animals, traditional hats, mats, chairs, local beds, traditional plates, jewelry/ornaments among others.
Mr. Munezero also said that the other main activity at the centre include Community tourism that is, nature walks and community guiding.
“ This will involve taking tourists in nature walks for community products, historical and cultural sites, and experiences such as traditional cultural practices, local brewing, cultural dances, storytelling, Blacksmiths and traditional/herbal medicine”, Mr. Richard Munezero said.
Agro tourism according to Munezerowill involve selling local experience to tourists such as honey harvesting, coffee roasting, milking cows, vegetable growing and harvesting agricultural products in the tourist area.
The social- cultural activities to be carried out by the community to promote tourism and environmental conservation in the area will be mainly cultural entertainment involving providing traditional music, dance and drama to the tourists and local communities.