Eighty participants drawn from Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania early this week completed an intensive three week tour guiding course aimed at enhancing their skills in conservation, wildlife identification and interpretation as well as customer care.
Forty nine of the participants who passed out on November 13, 2011 at the Makerere University Biological Field Station, Kyanyawara in Kibale National Park, Kabarole district were drawn from all the seven Conservation areas under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Dr. Andrew Ggunga Seguya (pictured) the acting Executive Director, UWA, who represented the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage (MTWH), presided over the official closure of the course organized and facilitated by the Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) in conjunction with UWA.
According to the course’s main facilitator, Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga, the participants covered vital areas of Zoology, Entomology, and identification of plants, mammals, insects, reptiles, primates and birds species. The trainees also acquired skills in customer care, equipment handling, and guiding ethics with a view to making lasting impressions on the visitors.
In his speech read by Dr. Seguya, the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu stressed the importance of tourism as an engine for transformation of the economy and the importance of imparting the badly needed skills on the tourism handlers.
The minister said his new ministry recently curved out of Trade and Industry, is engaging partners in finding solutions to various bottlenecks hindering optimization of our tourism potential .He called for more aggressive marketing of the country’s unique attractions by packaging tem into acceptable tourism products. Professor Kamuntu observed that government has been excited by the recent ranking by Lonely Planet a famous travel guide magazine which voted Uganda as the World’s best tourism destination in 2012 which is partly as a result of conserving a wide range of products.
On his part, the UWA Chief Executive who handed over two pairs of German made binoculars to the management of Kibale National Park to enhance birding and primates watching, challenged the grandaunts to change the face of tourism by offering quality service to the customers.
He said UWA is set to transform from a conservative conservation organisation to a dynamic customer focused agency responding to the changing face of tourism as we seek to compete favorably with our neighbours .He also disclosed that UWA is investing heavily in equipping the guides not only with skills but the requisite equipment to make their work more professional. He handed over certificates to all the participants and saluted Ms Lornah Nabukwasi from Mount Elgon National who emerged the best student.
The function was witnessed by Mr. Jerome Lwanga the director Makerere University Biological Field Station, Mr. Raymond Engena the UWA Concessions manager, Mr. Chris Mwesiimo, the UWA Human Resource manager, Mr. Edward Asalu the Conservation Area manager Kibale and Mr. Patrick Tushabe the UWA Product Development Executive