Tour Operators Battle UWA Over Wildlife Cards

Uganda Wildlife Authority is under pressure to halt the use of wildlife Cards, recently rolled out in National parks across the country.

Uganda-Tourism-Smart-Card

Tour operators, the key stakeholders in the tourism industry claim the system, previously marketed as a hustle free payment tool for tourism clients is tedious and inefficient.

The system Piloted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park last year involves the use of a wildlife card, about the size of a credit card, embedded with a microchip used to control and deduct rates and fees according to the services provided while in the parks.

Currently, the system is operational in Bwindi, Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Kibaale and Mgahinga National Parks.

Uganda Wildlife Authority anticipated that the card will improve the security of the tourists and tour operators, who no longer need to carry large amounts of cash.

UWA anticipated that the system would also increase efficiency in operations and improve the security of the gate clerks who have been keeping a lot of cash at the gates and were prone to attacks.

But Herbert Byaruhanga, the President of Uganda Tourism Association says the system has failed to operate and ended up dissapointing tourists and embarassing tour operators.

Byaruhanga adds that the system does not indicate the amount of money charged for each service yet the instant receipts provided by the machines easily fade off when dry, making accountability hard for both service providers and their clients.

Byaruhanga also questions the amount of money invested in procuring the system which he claims has failed in the initial stages of its implementation.

He explains that so far, the authority has spent US$ 500,000 to put the system while still in discussion for an appropriation of US $ 800,000 to rollout the system to other parks.

He adds that tour operators are now prompted to seek audience with President Yoweri Museveni in order to resolve the impasse.

It follows reports that the Authority had defied a directive by Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba to halt the use of the now controversial card system.

However, Uganda Wildlife Authority dismisses the claims that the system has failed.

Jossy Muhangi, the Public Relations Manager explains that the system uses hand held terminals using batteries to load or check the amount of money to be charged for various services and says it does not require internet.

He says they just use the local area network for reconciliation purposes.

He however admits that the money loaded and deducted is not shown on the receipts, but the services one pays for are instead reflected on the receipts. Muhangi says the authority is rectifying the anomaly.

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