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The Meteorological Station-interview with Prof G. Vassena

World Tourism Day Uganda 26 September 2008 – Kasese

The Meteorological Station – Interview with Prof. G.Vassena

World Tourism Day Uganda 26 September 2008 – Kasese

The 2008 celebrations of the World Tourism Day in Uganda were held in Kasese and dedicated to the Rwenzori Mountains and their tourism potentials.
Various stakeholders, including the associations for the mountaineering, the local communities and local institutions, Uganda Wildlife Authority, tour operators, hotels operators met in a workshop organised by the NGO “Friends of the Rwenzori”. The works were closed by the speech of Honorable Minister for Tourism S. Rukundo, who emphasised the government strategies for the support of the tourism sector of Uganda.
In the following day was in the agenda the official opening of the Kilembe Route, the new Southern Rwenzori trail managed by Rwenzori Trekking Services, a new tourist product from the Rwenzori Mountains National Park which is expected to be fully operational from 2009.

Among other contribution to the debate, Mr. Nelson Guma, Chief Warden UWA, discussed the presentation with the title “Climate variability, receeding snows and glaciers: implications for mountaineering product”. The main point he highlights is that the snow covering the peaks of the Rwenzori (on Mount Stanley) is receeding at a rate of 0.7 square km per decade, due to the increase of the temperature at a rate of 0.5 degrees C. per decade. This means that in the next 30 years there will not be any glacier in the Rwenzori. Indeed in 1906 at the time of the Duke of Abruzzi exhpedition the area of the glacier covered 7.5 square km, while today it is only 0.86 square kilometers. This dramatic change will have necessary implications for the tourist products. For example, the peaks will be more difficult to climb and therefore the guides should be trained in rock climbing to address this new condition; moreover, more accidents are to be expected. Some of the vegetation and plants might disappear as well as the snow, like the “Lobelia Wallastoni”, which will be infected by the high temperature. The quantity and quality of the water supply will also change. In the words of Guma: “There is need to fully understand the response of the tourism industry to effect of climate variability, mitigate these effects and adapt to changing circumstances”. The deforestation contributes to the global warming, therefore there is need to counteract this phenomenon with tree plantation and reforestation projects. There is also need to establish a system for rescue in the mountains, which is not existing at the moment. In general, the tourism to the Rwenzori should be promoted through different level of actions, involving the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the government and local stakeholders. These actions include involving and empowering community groups, to establish information centres, to widely market the products, to organise mountains exhibitions, train local guides, to avail craft shops for the visitors, opening new restaurants and cafés, tour operators desk and easy accessibility

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