“I don’t like this type of mediocrity,” he said. He called on UTB to stop comparing the country to Kenya, but with Spain, which has nothing to show, but they are attracting 50 million people.
President Yoweri Museveni has blasted the Uganda Tourism Board for not doing enough to promote the country's tourism potential.
"The promotion of the potential of wildlife has been poor due to poor performance of Uganda Tourism Board. Other countries that have nothing to show are attracting more tourists," he said.
The president said Uganda has unique potential in tourism with high plateau area with the lowest part 650metres above sea level and the highest part more than 5,000 metres above sea level. "If you can't promote that then you are a useless person," he said.
He castigated the Uganda Tourism Board, saying it needs scrutiny. "If you don't know, ask others," the president reiterated.
The President said for 50 million people to go to Spain and here they talk of only three million and they congratulate themselves is mediocre. "I don't like this type of mediocrity," he said. He called on UTB to stop comparing the country to Kenya, but with Spain, which has nothing to show, but they are attracting 50 million people.
He was on Friday officiated at the passing out of a total of 487 game rangers who included 393 men and 97 women at the Murchison Falls Training ground, Nwoya district.
The rangers mainly aged between 22-30 will be deployed in different conservation areas to beef up the already existing force in the field.
President Yoweri Museveni congratulated the Uganda Wildlife Authority for building manpower to protect the parks. He also congratulated the graduates.
He said lawlessness in the parks has been going down for the last five years, which has made the number of animals in the park to go up, especially the elephants.
Museveni also said there is need to work on the roads in the parks. He called on the management to have a master plan and he will look for money for it.
Museveni advised UWA to construct airport or aerodrome near the park to help the tourist avoid the hustle of traffic jam in Kampala to travel to the parks.
On conflict between human beings and wildlife, President Museveni said electric fence can be put in place and some plants that the animals don't like, like red pepper should be planted to deter the animals from straying into community land. The red pepper, he said can also be commercially profitable.
The president also said he has instructed Uganda Revenue Authority to introduce scanners at all the borders where vehicles pass to detect animal products being smuggled. "We need to strengthen the law so that if you go to the park, we put you in jail for long years instead of killing you."
The ceremony was witnessed by State Minister for Tourism is Godfrey Kiwanda, NRM deputy Secretary General Richard Todwong, UWA Board of Trustees, the fourth division commander, district leaders from Buliisa, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Pakwach, Oyam and Nwoya among others.
The four months training conducted by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in conjunction with UPDF's fourth division Gulu, came after a similar one in 2005 involving 200 rangers and 400 UPDF men seconded to UWA under Special Wildlife Integrated Force for Tourism (SWIFT).
President Museveni handed over a cheque of sh1.9b as parts of revenue sharing disbursement, the 20% of gates collection to six neighboring district bordering Murchison falls conservation area for the 2018/2019 financial year. Bulisa district got sh635.4m, Kiryandongo sh211m, Masindi sh141.2, Pakwach sh353m, Oyam 176.5m and Nwoya 458.9m.
The Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Samuel John Mwandha said the recruitment of new staff was a priority set by the new Board of Trustees. He said workforce of UWA is comprise of young Ugandans to serve tourism industry better.
Mwandha said in 20 years, UWA have lost 45 rangers killed by poachers and others in accident. He raised concern that that human population has increasingly encroached on conservation areas.
Mwandha lamented that the issue of poaching is now being pushed by international syndicates, mainly operating out of South East Asia, that are bank rolling the wanton slaughter of our wildlife, especially elephants.