By Donald Kiirya
In a bid to boost tourism in Uganda, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has launched a new product, bicycle tourism, where tourists can enjoy riding water bicycles on Lake Victoria.
The Bicycle Tourism product was launched on Lake Victoria in Jinja City by the principal tourism officer from the tourism ministry, Harriet Kizza.
The water bicycle riding adventure, which was initiated by Kevin Byaruhanga, the chief executive officer of Epic Escapades and Havy Tours and Travel Uganda Ltd, with assistance from the Agha Khan Foundation, is expected to attract both local and foreign tourists.
While launching the water bicycle riding product, Kizza cautioned the management of the new product to emphasise safety of tourists while riding the bicycle on waters of Lake Victoria.
She said safety and security were paramount under Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and, therefore, small mistakes should be avoided while tourists are riding because those mistakes can kill the image of the country.
Kizza said the National Development Plan III emphasises product development and diversification, adding that innovation of new products will increase numbers of tourists who visit Jinja and Uganda at large.
Byaruhanga said he and his wife chose to start the first ever Water Bicycle Adventure on Lake Victoria in Uganda after visiting Zanzibar and other places where the activity is enjoyed because it is unique.
He said they spent about sh37.5m to buy the five special water bicycles from abroad with each costing sh7.5m and added that they will increase the number of bicycles as tourists increase.
Byaruhanga added that the activity will also serve as a good example of the wellness of people by helping them keep fit and kill stress.
He said they hope to charge each East African citizen sh80,000 per 30-minute ride on Lake Victoria and will charge $40 for non-citizens.
Byaruhanga said they chose to initiate it in Jinja because is the adventure city of Uganda and East Africa at large.
The Jinja City tourism officer, Simon Kaita, said the development has increased the product line of tourism and number of tourists in the city.
Amos Wekesa, who runs the Great Lakes Safaris and Lodges, said Uganda needs new opportunities innovated under tourism and was excited that young Ugandans had launched the new product.
He said nothing will get Ugandans out of poverty than tourism, adding that Uganda need to do more marketing of its tourism products in the country and also put in resources.
Olga Daphine Namukuza from the Agha Khan Foundation was happy that the foundation was part of the sponsors and supported Kevin Byaruhanga in innovating the Water Bicycle riding product on Lake Victoria.
Water bicycle riding is just like riding a real bicycle, but on water. The lightweight metal frame is sturdy and mounted on two floats just like a catamaran so all you need to do is pedal, pedal, pedal to glide across the water.