While Ugandans are being advised to modernize tourism in a bid to enhance the country’s untapped but potential sector, tour operators are contesting the purchase of gorilla permits online saying that it will leave them with no business.
In a July 1st letter to President Yoweri Museveni, the chairman of the operators’ association Boniface Byamukama asked him to stop Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) from going ahead with their plan to make the permits accessed online.
Byamukama argues that if the purchase of the permits is put online, agents from other countries will be able to buy directly from UWA which will run the local operators out of business. He told local media that if UWA goes ahead with that plan, the operators will be rendered irrelevant and many people will remain unemployed.
Byamukama proposes that UWA puts the permits online only for illustration purposes but leaves the transaction to the operators.
UWA executive director Andrew Seguya says however that there is no cause for alarm. He says that the tour operators will remain in business because not all the tourists can access services online. He adds that even tourists who purchase gorilla permits online will require the operators’ other services like transportation.
He said that airline travel agencies and hotel operators have not run out of business yet a person can buy an air ticket or book a hotel room online.
Seguya wondered why Byamukama has not raised the matter to the board where he is a member instead of taking it to the president.
He said the President would not stop the plan because it would be against what he advocates for saying that the Finance Minister has said it a couple of times in the budget speech that tourism needs to be marketed online.