MPs commend UWA's marketing strategies

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Legislators on the Tourism, Trade and Industry committee of Parliament in August visited Murchison Falls National Park to appreciate the efforts by UWA in protecting the wildlife, Human Wildlife-conflict interventions, maintenance of tourism infrastructure and the impact of oil exploration activities on wildlife and tourism activities.

The chairperson of the committee Mrs Flavia Kabahenda Rwabuhoro Tourism is a unique export product consumed from the originating market and has multiple consumers. She called upon all stake holders to harness domestic tourism observing that it was embarrassing for foreigners to know us more than we know ourselves. She appreciated that the cost of conservation was enormous as the conservation agency fights off rampant poaching and other illegal activities like encroachment on the wildlife habitats, maintenance of the roads and trails, wildlife health interventions, research and monitoring plus the control of invasive species and restocking extinct species.

The woman MP from Kyegegwa district advised UWA to move from a culture of law enforcement strategies to a strategy of conservation through appealing to the communities and involving a wider spectrum of stake holders to appreciate the value and benefits of conservation.
She commended UWA for the introduction of marketing methods including the cashless payment method which will enhance the security of the tourists, tour operators and the authority staff from carrying huge sums of hard cash while transcending the wilderness.
Mr. James Mbahimba representing Kasese Municipality encouraged UWA to implement strategies which are in line with the liberalization policy. He said in Uganda there are no restrictions on business and urged UWA to open up all her products including gorilla permits to the entire global community. He condemned some tour operators who overcharge the clients wishing to access the tourism attractions in Uganda. He also called on UWA to make the 20% of the revenue from gate collections and disbursed to frontline communities to be conditional by tying them to certain projects that mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

Ms Lucy Ajok the woman MP for Apac district said her visit to Murchison Falls park had proved to her that UWA puts the little money charged from visitors as conservation fee to the right use given the new infrastructure and diverse tourism products .She said "I really support the new method of selling gorilla permits which encourages any prospective visitors to log on to the UWA website, check availability of permits and arrange to book and pay through the registered Ugandan tour operators. In Europe we book tickets and holidays at night by visiting the websites of companies and not necessarily through the agents," she asserted.
She also hailed the low season discounted gorilla permit rates as a way of eliminating the seasonality impact on tourism.
Mrs Nabillah Nagayi Ssempala for Kampala district said universal access to information on all UWA products should be enhanced and not restricted to a small group of people.

Earlier, the UWA Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya briefed the MPs on the cost of conservation especially tourism roads maintenance which requires expensive equipment like bull dozers, flat bed, graders etc. The Mps also received presentations from the Director Conservation Mr. John Makombo and that of Tourism and Business Services Mr. Raymond Engena.
UWA's senior planning coordinator Mr. Edgar Buhanga allayed the fears of the MPs on the adverse impact of oil activities saying a number of mitigating factors had been put in place including denial of establishing of camps in the protected area, training of 100 rangers to monitor oil activities on a daily basis, development of a sensitivity atlas raising a red flag to free sensitive areas of any activity among others.

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