Uganda Travel News

From 2013, the Uganda Tourism industry has witnessed several changes that are worth writing about. It is during this period that the government of Uganda decided to have an independent ministry of Tourism and Wildlife to cater for tourism development in the country. This was a great achievement as initially, it was affiliated under the ministry of Trade tourism and trade. After achieving this, the ministry established an in depended office to pursue its official duties.

The duty of licensing and controlling quality of all tour and travel agents was moved from the ministry of tourism to Uganda Tourism Board. In June this year (2014), Uganda Tourism Board held a consultative meeting with Tour Operators at Uganda museum to discuss the best way on how licensing and quality control exercise will run. It was thus agreed that the tourism act will be implemented and all tour and travel agents plus tour guides would be licensed after passing minimum requirements as set by Uganda Tourism Board. The fee to be paid is Uganda Shillings 250.000 per company and guides. The following meeting saw Uganda Tourism Board explain the guidelines for being licensed and the benefits of being licensed.

In this same period, Uganda Tourism Board has its budget increased to five billion Uganda shillings which much as it is still meagre is aright step in the right direction. It also indicates that the government has started appreciating the low tourism plays in earning foreign exchange to Uganda.

2013-2014 saw Uganda Wildlife Authority increase the price of Gorilla permit from US Dollars 500.00 to USD600.00 for foreign None residents and USD479.00 to USD500.00 for Foreign residents. This almost sparked off contest between Uganda Wildlife Authority and Tour Operators who urged that while Rwanda was in position to increase her price of gorilla permits, it had worked on their infrastructure. Tour operators argued that it was better for Uganda Wildlife Authority to first deal with infrastructures in National Park, wildlife conservation before rushing to increase the price of gorilla permits. In the same year, Uganda Wildlife Authority introduced discounted rates for gorilla permits on low seasons of April, May and November at USD350.00 from USD600.00 to allow those that can not afford tracking gorillas in high seasons to do so in low seasons. This was meant to increase permits sales during low seasons as well.

Uganda Wildlife Authority embraced cashless system where the originally used receipts as park entrance were replaced with UWA Cards. This is working in National parks although tour operators argue that before it is rolled to other national parks, it should be tested and confirmed. Uganda Wildlife Authority say that this will help in reducing on amount of cash carried around by driver guides which end up attracting robbers and putting the safety and security of clients at risk.

Uganda Tourism Association which is an umbrella body for all private associations in Uganda got a new President. Herbert Byaruhanga was elected as a new President for Uganda Tourism Association replacing Amos Wekesa. He started by stressing that a master plan would be in place to guide tourism developments of the association and indeed it was launched and we look forward to its implementation. He also promised that a fully fledged secretariat would be instituted to run the day today work of Uganda Tourism Association. With the new president in, all private tourism organizations have been working together to develop the industry.

The year 2013-2014 saw Uganda Wildlife Authority propose to put Uganda Gorilla permits online to be viewed and purchased by everyone on the globe. This was resisited by local tour operators under their umbrella organization (The Association of Uganda Tour Operators) resulting into the minister to institute a body to find out the best way to sort this out. It was later agreed that gorilla permit be put online but the right to view and book be left to Uganda’s registered tour operators only. Uganda Wildlife Authority is yet to implement this as the software purchased has to be modified to suite the new requirements. In the meantime, Uganda Wildlife Authority has been providing weekly availability of gorilla permits to tour operators something that has eased work for the reservations team at UWA.

Ebola hits the news as it kill many in West Africa and tourists to East Africa cancel they trips thinking that West Africa is closer to East Africa. Its at this moment that Uganda Tourism Board issued a press release to assure tourists that Uganda is ebola free and that our team is the most active on the continent.

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