09 Nov Minister Butime urges UWA not to compromise Standard Operating Procedures as primate tourism is relaunched
KANUNGU- The Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Hon Tom Butime has asked Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to stick to the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health as standard operating procedures.
Minister Butime made the remarks today September 25th 2020 while officiating at the relaunch of Uganda Primate Tourism which is specifically for Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area which took place at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Business Information Center in Kanungu District.
The Minister observed that the suspension of tourism activities since March 2029, due to Coronavirus pandemic lockdown was a painful decision by the government, but it was a necessary measure to save people and wildlife lives.
He said that whereas Savana tourism was reopened in June, primate tourism was put on hold because the wild game in primate areas like apes are close to human and therefore management had to put in consideration how best they can be protected.
According to Uganda Wildlife Authority Primate Tourism covers the tracking of endangered species like gorillas whereas the Savana tourism is in areas where there are no wild close to human beings.
“The effect on the closure of National Parks did not only affect the national economy but also affected the local communities where the National Parks are located,” Minister Butime noted.
Minister Butime observed that revenue from gorilla permits account for 60% of the total UWA revenue and this contributes emersely to the national economy and this contributes a lot to national development, therefore the loss of revenue from tourism was felt by the government.
The Minister however hailed the Uganda Wildlife Authority staff and management who have managed to protect the wildlife during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown and he reiterated governmemt commitment to continue supporting the tourism sector.
He thanked Uganda Tourism Board Executive Director Lilian Ajarova, who attended the function, who has been at the forefront of promoting uganda’s tourism potential and appealed to her to continue marketing Uganda as Africa’s leading tourists destination because of its gorillas and other rare wildlife species.
Earlier the Chairman Board of Trustees of Uganda Wildlife Authority Dr Pantaleon Kasoma made it categorically clear that the reopening of the primate tourism in Uganda after careful considerations especially with much emphasis on observing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and therefore the National Parks are safe for tourists to visit.
Mr Kasoma also revealed that in order for the number of visitors to increase in a shortest time possible Uganda Wildlife Authority has declared a price cut conssession to visitors and this will also benefit Tour Operators who will get 2 free gorilla permits on every 30 gorilla permits purchased.
“Some of the incentives in place include price cuts that are intended to catalyze visitors numbers coming to the Protected Area” Dr Kasoma emphasized.
He also said that every gorilla permit purchased will entitle the visitor to go to either Mt Elgon National Park or Toro Semuliki National Park without additional payment.
He also said that the cost of filming in the national park has been reduced as an incentive to promote tourism.
Kasoma also used the rare occasion to appeal to appealed to all Ugandans to visit the National Parks saying that they are safe.
Dr Kasoma also reiterated that UWA will continue to enforce the standard operating procedures which include hands washing with soap, sanitisation, wearing face masks and maintain social distance at all times in all National Parks.
The function was attended by Kanungu Deputy RDC Emmy Ngabirano and the Vice Chairman Gad Byomuhangi, Bwindi Community Hospital Executive Director Dr Mutahunga , Ride for A Woman Directors Denis Rubarema and his wife Evelyn, UWA staff and selected invited guests as they had to observe Ministry of Health guidelines.