Stakeholders in the tourism industry have asked the Uganda Tourist Board (UTB) to offer training and exposure opportunities abroad to operators of tour and travel agencies, especially those in upcountry areas.

Busoga Kingdom tourism minister Hellen Namutamba says such opportunities will help the beneficiaries to gain knowledge and skills as well as strategies for marketing tourism, to the benefit of the sector and the Government in general.

AUTO members, listening attentively

AUTO members, listening attentively

Speaking as the guest of honour at a meeting of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), which comprises local tour guides and operators countrywide, Namutamba said for best results, all industry players must be brought on board. The meeting was held in Jinja city on Friday, April 26, 2024.

“When enticing tourists from abroad to visit Uganda, you normally cite Jinja’s Source of River Nile for marketing purposes but unfortunately, once opportunities are availed to Uganda, none is extended to Busoga region, let alone the entire eastern region,” she said.

Namutamba added that according to available tourism data, after Kampala, Jinja is the second destination for tourists, but to date, UTB and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the bodies mandated to manage tourism including issuing permits for chimpanzees tracking, have no offices in Jinja and entire eastern Uganda.

AUTO's CEO Imelda Iremela, talking to participants(1)

AUTO’s CEO Imelda Iremela, talking to participants(1)

Earlier, UTB head of quality assurance Godfrey Okumu had reported that licensing a Uganda tour operator is free as long as the applicant fulfills the obligations, which legalises their entity, as stipulated by AUTO.

Okumu clarified that most opportunities either financial or travel abroad, are always open to all legitimate members of AUTO online for those interested.

AUTO CEO Matilda Iremera said members are bound to benefit from financial assistance from donors, tax exemption, and travel opportunities.

According to Vivian Lyazi, a tourism official, domestic visitors increased from 2,420,927 in 2019 to 2,659,390 in 2022 while domestic tourists made 23.6 million trips in 2022, compared to 21.5 million trips in 2019, with expenditure in 2022, worth shillings 3.7 trillion.

The meeting was attended by among others UWA head of reservation Leslie Muhindo and the officer in charge of Uganda Tourism Police, Brooks Atuhairwe. 

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