"I think women empowerment is a very important for women to participate fully in the tourism industry," says Mrs Adventina Matungwa, Managing Director for Walkgard Hotels and Tours in Bukoba. In Kagera region, there are only two registered tour operators namely Walkgard Hotels and Tours and Kiroyera Tours and Safaris, the latter is also managed by a woman, Ms Mary Kalikawe.
Mrs Matungwa strongly believes that when women once empowered, can play a major role in promoting tourism sector in various parts of the country, "It is very important for other women to come forward and venture into the tourism business.It is a lucrative business and provides an opportunity for more wmen to be employed," says the Managing Director.
"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 explains, adding that gradually the residents changed their attitude with more people turning up over the weekends at the hotels.
"We are getting lots of customers here and I'm myself capable of running and managing various activities in this venture.Thus women should not shy away from buisness", she says. On future plans, she wants to buy a luxury speed boat that is capable of carrying at least 12 tourists and tranport tourists to various sites on Lake Victoria.
"We have also acquired a site at Musira Island where we will set up a tented camp. The camp will include a presidential suite, a night club, and a modern conference hall," she says. Kagera region is endowed with abundant tourist attractions. However, most of them have not been effectively tapped into and developed due to lack of promotion and low investments in the sector.
Kagera has five game reserves with a total of 5,526 square kilometres.The game reserves include Biharamulo (1,300), Burigi (2,200), Kimisi (1,026), Rumanyika (800) and Ibanda (200). A wide range of wildlife is found in these game reserves. They include elephants, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus and antelopes, to mention a few. Several other species of birds and butterflies are also found in these game reserves, which cannot be found elsewhere in the world.
Other tourist attractions found in the region include the traditional palaces of Chief Rumanyika of Karagwe found at Bweranyange, Chief Kasusura of Biharamulo and Chief Balamba of Ngara.