The USAID-STAR (Sustainable Tourism in the Albertine RIft) Program was developed to help strengthen sustainable tourism in support of biodiversity conservation. This program will bring leading development and conservation-oriented institutions and practitioners together with local public and private sector tourism industry leaders to assist Uganda develop an integrated approach to sustainable tourism development. As a result, Uganda will have the ability to adopt best sustainable tourism practices that address biodiversity conservation through improved communications and collaborative actions among multiple value chain stakeholders.

The USAID-STAR Program will increase human capacity and community benefits from tourism to create value for the protected areas and wildlife while changing harmful behaviors—thereby removing the major environmental threats to biodiversity. This program will seek to increase and diversify rural livelihoods by improving local product offerings and strengthening the tourism sector value chains, and identifying threats to the biodiversity in Uganda’s section of the Albertine Rift. This program will also obtain a commitment by participating entities to implement both joint and individual initiatives.

The overall objective of the USAID-STAR program is to strengthen sustainable tourism in support of biodiversity conservation in the Albertine Rift region of Uganda. Much of Uganda’s existing tourism industry revolves around the national parks, which account for 13% of the country’s total surface area. USAID-STAR will focus efforts on helping Uganda realize its competitive tourism potential in the Southern Albertine Rift (including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park) and the Northern Albertine Rift (including Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest, and Murchison Falls National Park). The overall objectives of the program are to:

1) Increase the direct participation by communities in tourism and increase incomes derived by communities from tourism activities and small enterprises;

2) Increase and generate funding support for conservation activities and education and awareness campaigns focused on the value of biodiversity assets;

3) Create alternative livelihoods away from natural resource depleting activities, including illegal activities in protected areas bordering targeted communities; and

4) Increase the number of partnerships formed in support of conservation and sustainable tourism policies and support implementation of those policies.