The newly elected leadership of the Association of Tour Operators of Uganda (AUTO), held their first meeting with the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), on Thursday 24th July, 2014 in the UWA Board room 3. The meeting, which was held in a very jovial and cordial atmosphere, shared basic information on pertinent issues and identified areas of common interest. The members noted and agreed in principle to:
• Recognize that both UWA and AUTO are independent organizations, with different interests and mandate, but can work together in harmony, for the economic and social development of members and the Country
• To work towards setting up a formal communication channel, where the two Organizations will discuss and resolve decisions on issues of common interest.
In an attempt to address current issues that seem to have strained the relationship between the two organizations in the past:
Management of UWA provided documents to AUTO, clarifying that they had paid all dues to AUTO under the previous arrangement, which was wound up on 30th June 2011 by common consent in Memorandum signed on 2nd November 2010. Management also presented a copy of A UWA-BoT resolution confirming commitment to pay any confirmed outstanding dues to AUTO.
The meeting was informed that UWA will contribute $ 10 from every Gorilla permit sold at $ 600, to support National efforts to develop tourism in Uganda. These funds will be managed at UWA but activities identified jointly by AUTO, UTB and the Ministry. Management of UWA expressed interest to support members of AUTO, if a scheme that does not involve direct transfer of receipted UWA income, can be worked out.
Noted that the Gorilla on Line system was launched but the Visibility and booking component has not been implemented pending the re-modification of the software to restrict visibility to locally registered Tour Operators only. This will be launched at a later date with proper training of AUTO Staff.
AUTO Executives formally drew the attention of UWA Management to the Challenges being experienced with the newly introduced Smart card. This included the few centers where the cards are sold, the lack of and poor quality of receipts, the need for training the staff operating the system, and requested that a dual system be maintained during this piloting period
Noted the need to review and revise the Gorilla booking guidelines which were signed in 2006. A draft UWA proposal was submitted to the AUATO executives for consideration.