KAKOOZA SAYS TRAVEL AGENTS ARE THERE FOR YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. OUR SERVICE DOES NOT END AT THE SALE OF AN AIR TICKET
Uganda Association of Travel Agents has clocked 20 years this year. Richard Wetaya spoke to Pearl Hoareau Kakooza, the chairperson of the association about the milestones they have achieved and their contribution to the tourism industry in Uganda.
Twenty years down the road, what is there to celebrate for the Uganda Association of Travel Agents?
There is a lot to celebrate. First, our membership has grown. In 1999, we started with 12 members. Now we are 100. The fact that the Uganda Association of Travel Agents was recognised by Industry Airlines and Global Distribution System (GDS) Service Providers, such as Amadeus and Travel port Industry Stakeholders is worth celebrating.
In the same breath, we also reckon it is worthwhile to celebrate the recognition; the association has gotten through the years as the voice of Uganda travel agents.
In the 20 years, the association has been able to draft a five-year strategic plan that maps out its strategic direction, set up a functioning secretariat, built capacity for members through trainings and set up a database for its members.
What is the impact of your contribution to Uganda's travel and tourism market?
The association has liaised with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure adherence to professional standards and ethical practices within the tourism industry.
We have also contributed to the marketing of Uganda's premier tourist destinations through the exhibitions we have held.
The country's tourism travel distribution system has grown, over the years. In terms of numbers, how many sector players are running the travel agency economy now?
There are about 400 agents, but officially, 100 agents are registered with the association. We are also working with the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), to ensure that the industry is better regulated.
There is concern that some travel agencies have just made the sector crowded. How does the association ensure that travel agencies are enforcing quality assurance?
The tourism industry as a whole must be properly regulated. We encourage our members and non-members to register their businesses with UTB, so that tourists can have confidence in them.
Our quality assurance team is being reconstituted under UTB. In addition to that, a new code of conduct shall be signed by all travel professionals and with the regulation of the industry starting to take shape, Tourism Police, included, we envisage seeing proper travel professionals who are committed to delivering a good service to their clients. We are working closely with GDSs to ensure that any connected agency meets minimum standards.