By Paul Tentena
KAMPALA - The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) should habituate more gorilla families to address the issue of monopoly of gorilla permits.
Serapio Rukundo, the tourism state minister, said out of the 34 gorilla families in Uganda, only six had been habituated for tourism.
He said this had created the problem of few gorilla permits and caused friction amongst tour operators over monopoly issues.
"If business is there, why should we limit ourselves to a few gorilla families and permits? I want UWA to habituate more families," Rukundo said while opening the e-tourism Africa conference at Hotel Africana in Kampala last week.
Tour operators have for years complained about the few gorilla tracking permits in the Bwindi National Park, which were tagged to one firm, creating a monopoly in the sector.
Rukundo said the habituation of more gorillas and removal of monopolies would create a competitive and friendlier environment for tourists and tour operators.
He noted that Rwanda had only 10 gorilla families, but has managed to habituate all the families, claiming all the business from Uganda.
Damian Cook, the chief executive officer for e-Tourism Africa, said the tourism sector should invest in online marketing and management of tourism education.
He noted that recent polls have suggested that seven out of 10 travelers use the internet as their primary source of travel information and almost half of the planet's travel being distributed and booked online.
"Online sales have been one of the few sectors to experience growth despite the global recession," said Cook, adding that worldwide, travel is the number one selling commodity online and generates over $110b annually.
However, he said further, very little African tourism was sold online and finding and booking African destinations on the Internet could be a challenge.
It is hoped that with more education and awareness the tourism sector in Uganda will harness and implement online marketing tools.
UWA advised on gorilla permits