ALTHOUGH tourism has become the second largest foreign exchange earner sector in the country after minerals, few women have ventured into this industry.
"Women empowerment is critical component to enable them participate fully in the industry," says Mrs Adventina Robert Matungwa, the Managing Director for Walkgard hotels and tours.
Kagera region has only two registered tour operators, Walkgard hotels and tours and Kiroyera tours and safaris, also managed by a woman, Ms Mary Kalikawe. Mrs Matungwa strongly believes that if women are empowered, they could play a major role in promoting tourism. She urged other women to come forward and venture into the sector, which she described as wellpaying.
"When I and my husband (Robert Matungwa) invested over one million us dollars into the Walkgard hotels and tours some people just thought we were crazy," she said, adding that gradually the residents have been changing with more people showing up at the weekends to use the hotel services.
On future plans, she said she recently bought a luxury fast boat capable of carrying 12 tourists which would be making to and fro trips to different tourist sites along Lake Victoria.
"We're also planning to build the tourism and hotel management college which will train different workers. One of the challenges is the availability of trained staff in the Lake Zone. With the expansion of the Bukoba Airport, Bukoba can now host big seminars and meetings. The government in the region has been working closely with local investors to ensure the hospitality industry in this region is improving," she said.
Kagera region is endowed with abundant tourist attractions. However, most of them have not been effectively tapped and developed due to lack of promotion and low investment in the sector. The Kagera Regional Economic profile reveals that the region has five game reserves with a total of 5,526 square kilometres.
The game reserves with respective kilometres in brackets are: Biharamulo (1,300); Burigi (2,200); Kimisi (1,026); Rumanyika (800)and Ibanda (200). Various types of wildlife are found in these game reserves. They include elephants, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus and antelopes, to mention but a few.
There are also certain species of birds and butterflies found in these game reserves which cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Tourist attractions found in the region include traditional houses of chiefs Rumanyika of Karagwe, found at Bweranyange, Chief Kasusura of Biharamulo and Chief Balamba of Ngara.
What was needed now was to focus on upgrading of one of the Game reserves to National Park. This will increase the number of tourists in the Region.
SOURCE; TANZANIA DAILY NEWS (Dar es Salaam)
By Mulisa Meddy, 22 November 2013,