UWA gives back to communities neighboring protected areas

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Uganda Wildlife Authority –UWA has today handed over cheques worth UGX 4,479,575,644 to communities surrounding Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area.

While handing over the cheque to the district leaders of Kisoro, Kanungu and Rubanda at the Bwindi Conservation Area under the revenue sharing scheme , Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu appealed to the communities and leaders to support efforts of fighting illegal activities in protected areas.

“We are giving this money in recognition of the important role that communities play in our conservation efforts; we believe that we cannot effectively conserve wildlife without the support of the communities. I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for rallying behind UWA in conserving the two gorilla parks. It is my humble appeal to you that you continue with this support to conservation and ensure that all forms of illegal wildlife activities, are eliminated” he said.

The money will be used to finance a total of 76 projects: 17 in Kisoro, 24 in Rubanda and 35 projects in Kanungu. Four community camp sites will be funded in Bujengwe, Mpungu, Ruhija Sub County and Karangara.

One community Resource Center in Mukono Parish, Kayonza Sub County will also be set up using some of the cash and once completed, the community tourism camp sites will generate more revenue from the increasing tourism business to the community.
Prof. Kamuntu noted that government appreciates the contribution of communities neighboring protected areas in the conservation of wildlife in Uganda.

According to minister Kamuntu,the money disbursed under the revenue sharing scheme keeps on increasing because of the ever increasing number of tourists who visit the parks to track gorillas and urged them to work closely with the park management by ensuring that wrong elements do not infiltrate parks so that visitor numbers keep on swelling.

“The revenue share to the Districts will continue to increase, in response to the increasing number of tourists who come to our protected areas. I would like to appeal to everyone to play their role to ensure the parks and their surroundings do not get infiltrated by wrong elements that can cause insecurity” Kamuntu reiterated.

UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha emphasized the benefits to the community from wildlife conservation saying, “today is very historic moment when we celebrate another important milestone in our effort for sustainable wildlife conservation. In line with the UWA mission, I am pleased with the release of yet another sum of these funds which include 20% park entry fees and $10 per gorilla tracking permit sold in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park,”

He said this money will improve the livelihoods of communities and alleviate poverty. He called for adequate monitoring of the fund so that they are put to good use. “With adequate monitoring, it is our hope that the funds will be put to good use and be spent in accordance with the approved projects so that the benefit the intended people” he said.

UTB partners with golfers to promote golf tourism

By Edwin Muhumuza
The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has launched a partnership with the Uganda Gold Union(UGU) in a bid to position Uganda as Africa’s premier golf tourism destination.

This partnership begins with the sponsorship of the Uganda Gold Open Tour set for the 30th March until the 14th of September 2019.

Outgoing UTB, CEO, Steven Asiimwe says the signing of the agreement is to highlight the impact that the sport has on tourism directly and indirectly.

‘Today was the culmination of the discussions that started four years ago. We want the golfers to go beyond the golf course and go have an experience in every tour that they go. Golfers do not travel alone, they are people of influence ,who travel with their families, and if they(UGU) went beyond the 18 holes they could influence other holes.’ he said.

The Uganda Golf Union has always wanted UTB to sponsor some of their tournaments but UTB demanded for the benefits beyond mere sponsorship to include marketing Uganda as a top golf tourism destination.

According to Asiimwe, Uganda is uniquely placed for both the domestic and international golfer and in every town, golf courses are within the vicinity of an experience. In Mbale , one is in eye distance shot of Wanale and Mt. Elgon, rich in many waterfalls. In Kihihi, there is even an airfield next to it, among others.

‘We want to attract many golfers from neighboring countries, we are fortunate to be in some of the shortest travel distance for golfers’, Asiimwe added

The Uganda Golf Union President ,Innocent Kihika noted that golf and tourism do move together because when one goes out for a round of golf, they have to travel, find accommodation, buy meals, locate where to get refreshments, and where to lounge again and all these have economic impact on the communities.

The agreement is expected to last three years and for the first year the Golf Union will receive fifty million shillings.

According to statistics an estimated 5 to 10% travel worldwide with the sole purpose of playing golf and this number is steadily increasing and on a global scale, golf contributes about $20billion annually and by itself is able to attract millions of holiday makers across the world and Uganda is properly located, with friendly weather all year round to accommodate such visitors.

The Uganda golf championship will see golfers visit Mbale, Namulonge, Jinja, Entebbe, Mbarara, Fort Portal among other locations.

UTB, tourism police crack down another fraudster

By Edwin Muhumuza
Kampala, Uganda. February 2, 2019. In another operation with the aid of Tourism Police, Mr. Didan Atukunda from Mamba Gorilla Safari has been arrested for declining to pay back an erroneous payment made by a tourist.

Mr. Atukunda was arrested in a bar in Kabale at 2am by the Tourism Police Regional commandant- Kigezi region, ASP Tinka Emmanuel. The tourist erroneously paid $30.000 instead of $3000 for a trip to trek Gorillas and Mr. Atukunda declined to make the $27,000 refund; forcing the tourist to contact the Uganda Tourism Board. Prior attempts by UTB to discuss and agree to a payment plan between Mr. Atukunda and the touris proved futile leading to the involvement of Tourism Police in a crackdown for Mr. Atukunda’s arrest.
He is currently enroute Kampala from Kabale and will be detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.

The Uganda Tourism Board through its Quality Assurance department is taking strong interventions to curb crime in the sector.

According to the UTB, Quality Assurance Manager Mr. Samora Semakula, UTB has set up a Tourism security committee consisting of Tourism Police, MTWA and representation from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators with the let aim of tactfully handling fraud and any cases reported by tourists.
Tourism is Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner. We can not continue to let rogue operators destabilise the growth that we are seeing in the sector. Most importantly we want tourists to enjoy their stay in Uganda. Our role is to ensure quality standards are met in the sector.” Mr.Semakula said.

This brings the number of rogue your operators so far arrested this year to two. In a separate operation, Tourism Police and UTB cracked down and arrested Mr. Mugerwa Ahebwa who
defrauded American tourists of over $18,000. He is currently detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.

“We shall continue to crackdown rogue operators,”Mr. Semakula reinforces . The tourism industry currently contributes 10 per cent to gross domestic product, making it Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner. The industry contributes more than $1.4b (Shs5.1 trillion) annually and is projected to earn about Shs10 trillion ($2.7b) by 2020.

About the Uganda Tourism Board
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is a statutory organisation established in 1994. Its role and mandate was reviewed in the Tourism Act of 2008. The Board's mandate is to promote and market Uganda across the region and internationally, promote quality assurance in tourist facilities through training, grading and classification, promote tourism investment, support and act as liaison for the private sector in tourism development. The broader goals of the Board are to increase the contribution of tourism earnings and GDP; improve Uganda’s competitiveness as an international tourism destination; and increase Uganda's share of Africa's and World tourism market. UTB aims to create inclusive opportunities for the tourism sector through market transformation.

Tourism joint security committee to curb crime in the sector

TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS FORM JOINT SECURITY COMMITTEE

By Edwin Muhumuza

Tourism stakeholders have formed a joint security committee in a bid to ensure quick and efficient handling of crime in the sector. This during a dialogue at the Uganda Tourism Board offices hosted by the head of quality assurance Samora Semakula.

The stake holders dialogue was attended by the commandant of tourism police Frank Mwesigwa ,Association of Uganda Tour operators(AUTO),Uganda Hotel Owners Association(UHOA),Uganda Safaris and Guides Association(USAGA),The Uganda Association Of Travel Agents(TUGATA).

‘ Members of the committee are expected to keep track of cases that have been reported countrywide to rid the industry of masqueraders who often fleece tourists of their money’ Semakula explained.

Tourism being the economic backbone of Uganda, has attracted quite a number of people into the sector seeking to cash in on the rewards of the God-given beauty of the country, consecutively listed among the top three destinations of the world every year by global tourism agencies.

However, weaknesses in the law have been a challenge in ensuring transparency amid concerns that the Tourism Act,(now under amendment) is silent on several issues pertaining to safety and quality of services offered by stakeholders.

Commandant of tourism Police Frank Mwesigwa appealed to tour operators to liaise with the police to ensure that tourists are accommodated in Known hotels and to provide security when necessary. This on grounds that tourists have complained of theft of property and other valuables when accommodated in poor quality and substandard hotels and lodges.

The Chairperson of the Uganda Safaris and Guides Association, Herbert Byaruhanga noted that all members of registered associations should have their lists displayed on their websites as well as that of the Uganda Tourism Board, so that Police can easily identify criminals adding that blacklisting and displaying of suspected criminals will go a long way in ensuring that tourist and hotels will shun them.

The Executive Director, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Jean Byamugisha called for a Name and Shame list of tour operators and Hotels that have been named to have been involved in criminal activity because there are no consequences for now, so that the law can deal with them. Byamugisha added that there is need for the sector to ‘bite’ and use one culprit as an example to the rest to desist from crime.

Concerns were also raised from the Uganda Association Of Travel Agents over the laxity from some airlines to join their association, a move they say may be a set back to the sector.

Other issues of concern was that there is no one in the country that can produce a record of the number of tourists entering Uganda per day from all entry points for accountability purposes. However members observed that it will have to take an order from cabinet to the sector to deliver the records daily to the tourism police other than the Uganda Bureau of Statistics that has red-tape.

Tourism numbers hit record figures in 2018

By Edwin Muhumuza

The  year 2018 is poised to be Uganda’s best ever in regard to tourism. These were remarks made during the launch of the Tulambule Christmas campaign by the Uganda Tourism Board.

2017’s numbers have already been surpassed by 300,000 visitors.

So far statistics show that this will be Uganda’s best ever year in tourism in terms of numbers and awareness,’ said John Sempebwa, Deputy CEO,UTB.

In 2017,Uganda registered 1.4 million tourists and now the figures indicate an increase to 1.7million,two months before the end of this year.

The festive season is always one of the busiest with anticipated return of Ugandans living in the Diaspora as well as tourists fleeing the winter season in Europe.

Lets get Ugandans to book early, because some of these places(hotels and lodges) will be full to avoid disappointment.’ added Sempebwa.

At the same event state minister of tourism, Hon. Kiwanda Ssuubi remarked that his ministry is striving to achieve a target of 4 million tourists by 2020 and it will be achieved through aggressive marketing and awareness locally and internationally.

Several stakeholders have pledged to support the campaign including KCCA, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Uganda Wild Life Centre Tourism Police, Uganda Wild Life Authority, Igongo Cultural Centre, Ssese Islands Beach Hotels and others.

’our most important effort will be directed towards ensuring that we have a safe city working with the police and enforcement agencies ‘’ said Deputy Director Social services KCCA Ambrose Atwoko.

He added that they will want to maintain a green and clean city, improve and deploy more personnel to de-clog drainage, sweep streets, ensure functioning lights as well as ensuring facilities are  ready to meet medical emergencies.

Commissioner of Police, commandant Tourism Police ,Frank Mwesigwa,says they are prepared in this festive season to make sure all tourists are safe and secure in all tourism destination points.

My appeal is one, sometimes we have tourists who are VIPs who want to come into the country incognito, feel free to contact us so that we plan on how to secure those VIP tourists. We do not want to hear a VIP tourist getting problems in Uganda, we can deploy covertly to ensure their safety’.

Executive Director, Uganda Wild Life Authority, James Musinguzi, said the entire festive season up to Valentines’ day has been packed with activities such as childrens’ games, competitions, puppet shows, Christmas carols, zoo festival including acrobatics, boat rides, beach games, feeding wild animals among others.

Uganda’s tourism sector is on consistent upward growth. According to UBOS (Uganda Bureau of Standards) statistical abstract (2016), Uganda received 1.32 million tourist arrivals. The number of arrivals through the gazetted border posts increased by 4.1 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

In 2016, most tourist arrivals in the country were from the African continent, accounting for 79.2 per cent, followed by Europe at 8.3 per cent, Asia at 5.5 per cent and America at 5.4 per cent.

Tourists from the neighboring countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounted for 64 per cent of all visitor, or tourism arrivals.

Political upheavals have not affected tourism – Kamuntu

The ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Etiquette says there have been no negative impacts on tourism caused by political upheavals in the country.

According Tourism minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the demonstrations in the country did not  impact the number of tourists coming in Uganda . He blamed the  media which for trying to portray an image of  a politically unstable country.

‘Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange earner for the country with 1.4 Us Billion dollars annually thus contributing to national GDP.’Says Kamuntu.

He however said that there have been some travel cancellations and travel advisory from embassies but this did not affect the sector as claimed by the private tourist operators.

Kamuntu made the remarks while addressing the media on the upcoming International Tourism Day due to take place in Jinja on 27th under the Theme, The Digital Tourism and the Digital Transformation.

Come let us experience this Uganda tourism gem #TulumbeFort

Fort Portal municipality at the foot of Rwenzori Mountains is currently known to the cleanest town in Uganda and a gateway to various national parks including Kibale, Semuliki, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi Impenetrable, Rwenzori and Toro-Semuliki Wildlife reserves. It is famous for the stalagmites and Nyakasura waterfalls linked to the rich Chwezi culture. The area is surrounded by scenic crater lakes, beautiful tea plantations and the Rwenzori mountain ranges besides a cool climate and hospitable people boasting of the youngest and most handsome king in the world. It is also known for the Bigodi wetland sanctuary. -UWA website
This beautiful place is a the only place you want to be at this weekend because in addition to all the above natural goodness you will experience, Capital FM and Dyelo Entertainment will be bringing you a party to remember. Join us as we experience Fort like never before this Martyr’s day weekend.

Beautiful sceneries not enough to save Uganda tourism ministry as it chokes on debts

Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is choking on debts in subscription fees to international bodies. The Ministry owes the Lusaka Agreement and the United Nations World Trade Organisation- UNWTO over Shillings 5.6 billion in unpaid arrears.

As a result, Uganda could be eliminated from the decision making process in both bodies. Currently, Uganda holds the position of the vice presidency of the UNWTO. However, the country risks being expelled from the organisation should it fail to meet its obligation like it happened earlier.

Uganda started actively participating in the organization activities after negotiating to clear its arrears amount to over US$ 1million in 2013. Margaret Ojara, the Under Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, says the problem is real.

She says Uganda owes the Lusaka Agreement up to 1,655,747 US Dollars about Shillings 5 billion and UNWTO Shillings 661 million. She says over the years, they have been budgeting for this money under unfunded priorities but no funding is availed to offset the debt.

Maria Mutagamba, the Tourism Minister says the burden with the Lusaka Agreement is that East Africa was operating under a single party, meaning that all the money had to go to the secretariat in Nairobi, which created a big burden for the country.

She says they have now agreed that each country takes the burden of catering for its staff and only pay jointly for the basic necessities.

On the United Nations World Trade Organisation debt, Mutagamba says Uganda suffered for over 10 years when it was suspended from taking part in the activities of the organisation over debts. She says after negotiations Uganda is now on course to clear the debt. From over two billion Shillings the country owed in 2014, the burden has reduced to about Shillings 661 million.

According to the payment schedule, Uganda agreed to clear the debts in 15 years, starting from 2013.  Tourism officials are hopeful that within the remaining years, they will be able to offset all the arrears. Uganda is also a member to several other obligations, though it’s not clear whether it has cleared its obligations with those bodies.

-URN

Uganda is 13th in the 20 most beautiful countries in the world

Uganda has been named by American internet media company, Buzzfeed as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Uganda was ranked number thirteen on the list of twenty.

Known tourism company owner Amos Wekesa could not hide his joy as he posted on his Facebook,

“Uganda among the top 20 most beautiful countries in the world!! We can’t eat this,,,,,we need turn potential into real opportunities!!”

Of cause as the saying goes, “it is hard to appreciate what is yours” Not so many Ugandan will value this news but it is all good news.

Proud to be apart of the Pearl of Africa!

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Ugandan dance

 

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Central Ugandan delicacy known locally as Luwombo

 

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Marchion falls