By Titus Kakembo
The fury was palpable as the sun scorched tour industry operators protested the online purchase of gorilla tracking permits.
They asked government to improve the infrastructure to different destinations, aggressively market Uganda and cut taxes if they are to compete with their East African Community counterparts.
“It is not the online permit that is going to make the sales of permits 100 percent,” the AUTO chairman Boniface Byamukama told a press conference.
“Tourism has both low and high seasons on the calendar. What is needed are better connecting roads, affordable air travel to different destinations and a bigger budget in marketing.”
“Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) should stick to conserving nature which is threatened by poaching,” said Byamukama with a creased forehead.
trueAngry tour operator gathered in Kololo in protest of availing gorilla tracking permits online
“The rangers’ working terms should be improved for the better image of our country. Facebook went viral when someone posted a comment about tourist having to share their portions of lunch with visibly starved rangers.”
This protest comes in rapid succession of media exposure by UWA executive director, Dr. Edward Seguya blaming the minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Maria Mutagambwa for delaying to flag off of the online availing of permits to visitors.
Dr. Seguya assured MPs while touring different packages that, UWA would work well with e-marketing because tourists would not go through the existing bureaucracy.
“UWA would get an extra sh20b annually,” said Dr. Seguya.
Rejecting his views Barbra Vanhelleputte says if UWA wants more tourists, they ought to introduce more packages, urging government to plough more money in marketing the destination and improve the infrastructure.
“Avail air transport at affordable rates to Kidepo, the source of The Nile and Bwindi Forest and you will see miracles happen,” said Vanhelleputte.
Making his closing remarks, Byamukama asked for a forensic audit of UWA business.
“The way this online thing is being fast tracked leaves a lot to be desired,” said Byamukama. “The disappearance of ivory from UWA stores makes me sniff a dead rat.”
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Uganda Wildlife Authority versus tour operators