By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. Grace Mbabazi Aulo, the Commissioner Tourism Development in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities says government is now looking at culture in its quest to diversify the tourism sector.
Aulo was on Thursday officiating at the launch of the Culture and Conservation of the Great Apes Research Report, during a function held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. The Commissioner who underscored the need for mainstreaming of culture in the government development agenda said there exists a great relationship between culture and conservation.
She explained that this is reason why her Ministry is now looking at culture in its effort to diversify the tourism sector.
“At government level we are thinking of diversification of the tourism sector. Culture is one of the areas and actually it’s key,” Aulo said adding;
“We want to see how we can enhance and develop the cultural sites.”
Uganda’s tourism sector is focused on the country’s landscape and wildlife. It is a major driver of employment, investment and foreign exchange, contributing 4.9 trillion shillings (US$1.88 billion, as of August 2013) to Uganda's GDP in the financial year 2012-13.
The study was carried out by the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) with support from the Arcus Foundation in Rwenzori and Bunyoro sub-regions. The research aimed at establishing the extent to which culture can contribute to conservation of the great apes in Uganda, so that the existing positive cultural resources can be harnessed.
Emily Drani, the Executive Director Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda said the study was prompted by the fact that Chimps are becoming one of the endangered species as forests, which are their natural habitat continue being cleared by communities especially in the two regions.
“It’s anticipated that this research will contribute to increased appreciation and debate on the possible synergy between culture and the conservation of the chimpanzees by local communities and conservationists, within and beyond Uganda,” Drani said.
Among other areas, the study found out great linkages between cultural beliefs and chimpanzees, which would be strengthened to ensure that these endangered wild species are protected.
“The research revealed a positive perception of the chimpanzees among the Banyoro and the Bakonzo. Many respondents perceived chimpanzees as “people who ran away from the community” or “wild people” or as “brother and sister” or “relatives” who should be respected because they share human characteristics,” an excerpt from the research findings showed.