Profile of the association.
Ukerewe Tourist Association was formed in May 2004 by a group of businesswomen and men. As the name says, the Association works for development of Tourism in Ukerewe District. The objectives being: –
To develop the tourism potential in the district together with stakeholders to raise the district’s income for the benefit of her communities.
To promote tourism through development of marketing materials and networking with stakeholders, donors and authorities within and outside the district.
To develop income generating activities in order to be able to pay for the running costs of the association.
UTA is currently running a nursery for various fruit tree seedlings. The project was financed by DADPs Ukerewe.
Members are by Agost 1, 2009 a total of thirty-three businesswomen and men, mainly engaged in hotel guesthouse, restaurant and entertainment businesses. Others are employees and peasant villagers. All stakeholders within the district are invited to be members, either as individuals, groups, associations or villages’ governments. The association invites non-residents and residents from other districts to become associate members.
Since its establishment the association has been engaged in implementing a study tour to other similar organizations in Tanzania, visits to parts of the district with tourist potential, training of members, implementation of the first, and partly the second phase of the Bicycle Tourism Program.
The study tour went through Serengeti and Ngorongoro, to Mto wa Mbu, Arusha and Lushoto in the Usambara Mountains. In Mto wa Mbu and Lushoto was visited local organizations promoting tourism in their areas with different set-ups. In Arusha the Cultural Tourism Program at Mto wa Mbu was visited, PROTS Tourism Institute, and Authorities dealing with tourism promotion. It was an important experience for the participating members and the experience is used whenever a new intervention or idea is discussed.
In February 2005 a visit to the Island of Ukara (which is the second biggest of the 34 islands forming the district) was organized in order to understand better the tourism potential here. The understanding led to good relations with leaders of the community and is promising for future developments.
A training day for members was organized In May. The topic was the ‘bicycle tourism’, which is the first project the association is implementing.
The bicycle project was initiated by Gallu Beach Hotel in 2003. Since then a number of bicycle routes has been tried out together with visiting tourists. The idea has proved to be very viable. Hence, in 2005 the association has got funds from the District Council to implement part of the first and second phases of the bicycle tourism project and more. These include: –
Participation and exhibiting in the Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair at Arusha in 2005
Awareness creating meetings in 10 villages through which the first and second routes pass.
Erecting of signposts in these routes, sufficient to lead-through non-guided tourists and other visitors who are new to these places.
Conduction of a three-day seminar for all the members. Mr. Vedastus Izoba, owner and principal of the renowned Professional Tour-guide School in Arusha, facilitated this.
Collection of information regarding these two routes.
Preparation and development of a brochure for the first route.
Participation and exhibiting in the Mwanza East Africa Trade Fair in 2007
Uploading a considerable amount of information to our website uta.uwazi.com
Visiting tourism related companies in Mwanza.
The basic idea behind the activities of the association is:
That it is possible to develop a kind of tourism; one which will benefit a major part of the communities involved.
That is why bicycle tourism is chosen as the first priority to implement. When the tourists go by bicycle they will be in close contact to the environment, the surrounding nature and the communities they pass by. They will make stops on the road, they will buy from local shops, order food from stalls, visit families etc. Further they will need services like bicycle hire, guiding, bicycle repair as well as lodging, boarding and entertainment.
No single stakeholder can provide all services. Ukerewe Tourist Association will therefore try to facilitate, so that as many stakeholders as possible will gain from these activities. One step to this is to bring awareness of the ideas to the local communities and their leaders.
To run an association is not free of costs. There is transport to meetings, telephone calls, typing and photocopying etc. to be done. At a certain stage there will also be need for a permanent office and employees. Currently the activities of the association are being housed in kind by Felista Bwire, the treasurer. The association has discussed how to generate these funds, because donors obviously cannot pay for all of them. Ideas like selling postcards and getting booking commissions and various fees has been mentioned. An idea of facilitating volunteers to work in the district for a fee has also been discussed. Basically the association does not want to compete with activities undertaken up by members. To date, the association has facilitated seven volunteers who pay to the association $ 199 each for this service. They also purchase materials for their volunteering for a value of $140 each.
The association is seeking funds to have made a long term business plan. Further, the association is seeking funds for paying a consultant. We are also looking forward to creating joint projects with other organizations in order to spread the tourism concept in a broader scope.
Ukerewe Tourist Association sees that there is a lot of untapped potential for local tourism and for involvement of the communities. Therefore the association works on having a living network within and outside of Ukerewe District.
Further the association thinks that one-way-tourism is a viable way to future tourism development in the Lake Zone.
Prepared by Deus Shayo, August 2009