By EDGAR R. BATTE
Uganda has reduced the visa fees for single entry into the country effective July 22 to $50. The recent increase of the visa charge from $50 to $100 had attracted pleas for a reversal from stakeholders in the sector as it was bound to make Uganda a more expensive destination. Currently, Kenya charges $50 while Rwanda charges $30 for the same visas.
"Even after several lobbying and advocacy done by the private sector to reduce the cost of the visa, the new financial budget hadn't take into account this, making Uganda once again an expensive destination," Carmen Nibigira, coordinator of the East African Tourism Platform says.
In a letter to the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, president of the Uganda Tourism Association, Mr Boniface Byamukama, had implored the minister to have visa fees reduced because it would makes Uganda a very expensive and less attractive destination.
Byamukama explains that the impression created in the minds of the travellers is negative and yet perception is a huge influencing factor and this greatly affects a traveller's choice of destination.
Affecting bilateral agreements
He adds, "Comparatively like Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, Foreign Nationals wishing to obtain a Rwandan visa pay US$30. In view of bilateral agreements, nationals of specific countries are permitted to visit Rwanda without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. Kenyan visa fee is $50."According to Babara Adoso, president of Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), the immigration directorate needs to be sensitised more and probably receive some training in line with the manner of handling the East Africa Visa.
"We are a law-enforcement agency. When the visa fees were revised upwards, we saw it as an anomaly. We went to Ministry of Finance to inquire and we were told that it was a directive from parliament and they could not do much about changing the fees. It is unfair to charge the same fee to someone coming into Uganda for a single entry with another who is paying for 'multiple entry'," argued Mr Wilberforce Ngonde, assistant commissioner for immigration, during a meeting with industry stakeholders, last Wednesday.
Uganda's policy is to encourage promotion of tourism. "But how many embassies do we have internationally? There are no immigration offices at the embassies. That is why we introduced the online platform for visa platform (E-Visa)," the commissioner explains.
The E- Visa
According to Jacob Siminyu, the Ministry of Internal Affairs Public Relations Officer (PRO), besides promoting tourism, the online platform will help in promoting investment, enhance service delivery and promote security since it will help immigration cross-check information with different data bases and security agencies to make sure people coming into Uganda do not pose any security risk.
"We have so far issued about 6, 000 applications (as of last Monday). We have capacity to process a visa in one day though our official time line is two to three days," Siminyu adds.
According to a press statement from Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Government of Uganda introduced the online visa application system with effect from July 1, 2016. "All persons intending to come to Uganda for holiday, tourism, business, study, visit, medical are required to apply and obtain a visa online. Applications should be filled at the following link: https://visas.immigration.go.ug," the statement explains in part. However, some complaints have since been registered that the website on which tourists should access visa application has reportedly been down.
Siminyu says that they have not experienced any such challenges and adds that the problem tourists face is not adhering to time. "The system is time-sensitive. It is not a process you can abandon and do something else. You need to pay attention to it for about 20 straight minutes. It is advisable that you have all the necessary documents before starting to apply for a permit or visas," the ministry's publicist explains. Through the month of July, it will still be possible to get visas on arrival. However, the traveller will have to go through the electronic application process at the port of entry.
How it works
When an applicant starts the process, their application will be sent electronically through the email provided. If approved, an approval letter will be sent as an attachment to the email provided. The type of visas will include multiple-entry, diplomatic and official, ordinary, East Africa Tourist Visa (multiple entry valid for 90 days to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) and transit visas.
Siminyu explains that a visitor is required to upload clear copies of current passport, Yellow fever certificate and Passport photo. On completion of the online application, one will receive a barcoded email notification. They will be required to print out the email and bring it with them to Uganda. Upon arrival at any border (entry point), they must present the barcoded email. The immigration officer will scan the barcode, take your fingerprints and photo and ask for the $100 cash payment for the visa.
Notably, Uganda only accepts USD bills dated 2006 or newer and in excellent condition. A visa sticker will be printed with your photo and placed in your passport. But tourism stakeholders feel the visa fees are too high and making business bad.
Uganda is composed of a diverse and rich cultural heritage expressed in arts and performances, social norms, languages, marriage ceremonies, indigenous knowledge systems of nature and environment, music and dances. The cultural heritage comprise of both tangible and intangible that are enshrined in our lives, inherited, recreated that has evolved over time. Culture is a strong part of people's lives, it influences their views, values, humor, hopes, loyalties. Culture provides a sense of identity, social cohesion, self-esteem and continuity of humanity.
The diverse cultural heritages are interconnected to one another and therefore the boundaries of ethnic cultures are fluid, they are not pure. We celebrate the diverse cultures for promoting unified nation in order to build strong pillars of foundation for our young generation and enhancing relationships with one another in order to have an understanding of their cultures for wealth creation and unity.
Uganda is a signatory to Unesco convention of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage 2003, the convention of cultural diversity and expression 2005 and the convention to protecting and promoting cultural and natural heritage 1972. As such as a nation through the cultural policy 2006 and Museums policy 2015, the republic of Uganda therefore affirms its constitutional obligation of mainstreaming cultural heritage and guarantees its preservation and enhancement for promoting sustainable development. We therefore applaud different communities, cultural institutions and individuals who are playing major role in the proclamation, recreation, safeguarding, maintenance and promotion of cultural heritage, which help to enrich our cultural diversity and human creativity.
This year the Ugandan community will have an opportunity to display the cultures local and international, corporate and informal as well as the historical/traditional cultures under the theme : "Appreciating who we are: Celebrating Cultural Diversity"
Therefore, the purpose of hosting this Uganda International Cultural fair is to establish a platform where the Ugandan Community and the international communities celebrate our culture. This fair will also help to establish relationships with people from different cultural heritages across the globe and support creating an enabling environment in which people can work together to build strong socio economic base of Uganda hence feeding into the vision 2040 of prosperous nation.
This event will run for three (03) days from 29th - 31st July 2016. This event will offer a sandwich of formal sessions and dialogues on culture, social exhibition of culture. The exhibition will include physical display of what different groups identify themselves with ranging from dressing (Fashion), art and craft, music, dance, drama, poetry, diverse cuisine, wine testing, local brew, historical traditional tales and legends, acrobatics, magic shows among other things in their individual exhibition booths. National Kingdoms, cultural clusters and the international community will be invited to showcase their cultures.
Schools are invited to offer an opportunity to the young generation to learn about the different cultures both local and international and be inspired. Schools will also be a major focus for creating a tourism culture amongst the Ugandan community since behavioral change is more effective amongst the very young as compared to adults. There shall be school cultural quiz competetions being sponsored by Uganda Tourism Board(UTB). The best pair of students will be awarded school fees for the next term, the teacher or trainer and the school for the best pair of students will be awarded as well.
The importance of promoting the cultural fair
- It will contribute to building communities that are powerful enough to attain significant change in development. If cultural groups join forces, they will be more effective in reaching common goals, than if each group operates in isolation.
- It will help to diversify our economic base in boosting rural economy where rich cultural products can be packaged and marked in the international trade through cultural tourism experiences
- There is opportunity for young generation to develop innovative skills of modern technology through animation of cultural heritage in the digital revolution which helps in creating jobs in creative arts
- Each cultural group has unique strengths and perspectives that the larger community can benefit from. This will offer a wide range of ideas, customs, and wisdom to solve problems and enrich community life in the future
- Understanding cultures will help to overcome and prevent ethnic differences. The ethnic divisions result in misunderstandings, loss of opportunities, and sometimes violence. Misunderstanding of conflicts drain communities of financial and human resources; they distract cultural groups from resolving the key issues they have in common.
- This function will help to learn about the influences that cultural groups have had on our mainstream history and culture, this will help participants get an accurate view to appreciate different societies, communities and cultural norms.
Uganda Wildlife Authority was on Wednesday April 6th,2016,greatly honoured to host HE President Yoweri Museveni in Semuliki National Park where he went for a nature walk in the forest and also visited the famous Sempaya hot springs . He commended UWA for great work in promoting conservation and tourism
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Tree-climbing lions? Tick! Healthy numbers of hippos and elephants? Tick! Over 600 different bird species? You’ve got it… This is the place to come for guaranteed sightings of a huge range of African wildlife, a real-life geography lesson in the difference between savannah, wetlands and forest and the chance to do all this without having to share it with too many of your fellow humans.You can also take a boat safari on the Kazinga Channel, giving your family a unique perspective on the many mammals, birds and reptiles coming to drink here.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to roughly half the 750 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild. Expect thick jungle, a lot of sweat, and then the miracle of going eye to eye with the very deep gaze of a watchful silverback.
Fifteen giraffes will on June 30 hit the road from Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda to Lake Mburo in western Uganda.
The conservation fraternity has yet again celebrated fundamental progress in cooperation in when Uganda wildlife Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust a colorful ceremony held at Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe.
Flanked by the media, the two institutional heads UWA's Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya and Ngamba's Ajarova Lilly signed the protocol witnessed by UWA's head of legal and Cooperate Affairs Mr. Chemonges Mongea. The MoU is mainly going to formalize UWA's relationship with Ngamba pertaining the rescue and care of the for the orphaned chimps.
UWA's Executive Director underscored the importance of the MoU by highlighting the conservation aspects of the new collaboration mechanism. The Chimpanzee Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) is a non-governmental organization established in 1998 to promote the understanding, appreciation and conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats in particular.
The Trust has now transformed into an NGO to tap into resources from the wide spectrum of donors outside the government coffers. The Chimpanzee Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) is a non-governmental organization. Established in 1998, it promotes the understanding, appreciation and conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats in particular.
"With this partnership we would like to increase the marketing of tourism in Uganda by training the communities. We shall also have joint training of the staffs and sharing management skills," said Andrew Sseguya UWA Executive Director.
He stated that with MoU in place, the two organisations will be in position to rescue and care for the orphaned chimpanzee as well as the welfare and conservation of the endangered species.
This innovation was to ensure that even those who have forests with wild animals are encouraged not to cut it down. The move was therefore intended to create awareness among the community so that the tourism industry is handled in effective and efficient manner.
The executive director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lilly Ajarova, welcomed the new partnership saying it will promote the conservation of chimpanzee and the environment. She stressed the need of having more land to keep the animals for tourist attraction especially around the Albertine region and appealed to the communities to leave the area. "We are going to engage the communities to leave the areas where we have earmarked for tourism," Ajorova stated.
As published in Africageographic blog
Uganda, is known as Africa's premier birding destination with the list of birds found in the country topping 1 000! Many of these birds live only in these tropical forests with rare sightings being described as "mythical" while it is believed that some of the birds living in the remote forests of Uganda may not even be classified as of yet!
In the October 2013 issue of Africa Geographic magazine we meet the Uganda Bird Guide Club and chat to them about their lives spent birding in Uganda. This beautiful country must be on any birders bucket list and this is our list of the top 10 birds to see in Uganda.
As published in Africageographic Blog
Forest so thick you can't see the person walking less than a meter in front of you, ground as slippery as ice and at a minimum angle of 30 degrees – our second mountain gorilla trekking adventure in Uganda had begun!
Even second time around it was as unforgettable an experience as the first time. There is something about staring into the eyes of so human a creature and seeing recognition and acknowledgement that makes it impossible to leave without a very different attitude to all our fellow inhabitants of earth.