As of July 10, 2014, there was no single licensed tour operator in Uganda. This was revealed by Mr John Sempebwa, the deputy chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) at a sensitisation meeting with tour operators in Kampala on Thursday.
The meeting was to alert the tour operators on the new licensing guidelines. Regulations set in 2012 define a tour operator in Uganda as one who is licensed by UTB. Previously, the tour operators have been getting their licences from the Ministry of Tourism at Shs50, 000.
According to Mr Sempebwa, UTB was put in charge of licensing and de-licensing since 2012 and is the only body mandated to do so but previously, they did not have the capacity to do so.
“Now it has. The ministry has now ceded the mandate to issue licences to UTB,” he said.
Mr Sempebwa, however, explained that the tourism body will not start cracking down on the operators immediately. “We are sensitising for now.
We will use the next three months to make sure they are all aware. Then we will sit with the associations within the industry and determine when to actually start checking for licences,” he said.
The tour operators, travel agents and tour guides will have to pay Shs250,000 to get a licence from UTB, along with ensuring their businesses meet certain standards. Only firms licensed by UTB will be allowed to operate.
The chairperson Uganda Tourism Association (UTA), Mr Herbert Byaruhanga, welcomed the regulations, saying they will help to manage cases of misconduct within the industry. UTA is the umbrella body of all tour operators associations.
Mr Sempebwa also hinted at Uganda’s new strategy to market the country as a tourism destination. “We are changing the strategy to hiring PR firms to market us in four markets the UK, Germany, the US and Japan,” he said.
Mr Sempebwa said the aertisement for competent PR firms will be out later this month as they are supposed to start work in September.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor