Inquiry into gorilla permits necessary
Posted Wednesday, September 18 2013 at 01:00
Unless these allegations of mismanagement are dealt with, the current lack of transparency and infighting might jeopardize the well-intentioned demands for increased government funding of the tourism sector.
The tourism sector has been cast in the spotlight for commissioning the sale of online gorilla permits without research in the country.
It is understood that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is behind implementing online gorilla permits in some parts of the country; something which tour operators say might lock them out of business.
However, UWA officials say the move is aimed at enabling the tourism fraternity embrace information technology as a marketing tool, increase accessibility of gorilla permits and boost permit sales.
A commission of inquiry into this industry is, therefore, necessary for transparency and accountability. The recommendations, from this team of experts, if released, will be helpful in getting the sector, (one of the country’s major foreign exchange earners) back on track.
Although the industry managed a slight increase in revenue last year—Shs2.2 trillion (about $834m) in 2012, up from Shs2.1 trillion ($805m) in 2011, its 2013/14 budget allocation dropped. The sector received Shs10.761 billion for this financial year (2013/14), down from Shs10.9 billion in the previous year.
Worse still, the 2013 World Economic Forum travel and tourism report shows that Uganda backslid to the 116th position out of 140 countries in 2012 from the 115th position in 2011. The implication is that there are many tourists that do not hold positive perceptions about Uganda, thus choosing other countries instead.
The report was also contrary to earlier reports that ranked Uganda among the top 20 global tourism destinations in 2013. These and other issues are what the commission of inquiry ought to look into in a quest to streamline the sector.
For instance, finding out the basis on which various tourism sites are marketed would go a long way in digging out the tourism sites that have not received much attention compared to the rest. This would then enable the country to tap into their potential.
Unless these allegations of mismanagement are dealt with, the current lack of transparency and infighting might jeopardise the well-intentioned demands for increased government funding of the tourism sector. Overall, failure to deal with these challenges could stifle the growth of one of the country’s vital revenue streams.