uganda safaris

 

TOURISM BACK IN ACTION AFTER THE EASE OF LOCKDOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trips to the parks are to be carried out in compliance with the laws stipulated by President Museveni and the Ministry of Health.

 

Tourism staggers back in action after lockdown ease

 

 

 

Boat cruise at Queen Elizabeth National Park. (Photo by AHMED MUKWAYA)

 

 

 

TOURISM 

 

 

 

KAMPALA - Tourism is staggering back to its feet after being paralyzed by the Coronavirus Lockdown since March.  This follows the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) announcing the opening-up of some protected areas like Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Semiliki National Park.

 

 

 

"This is under strict laws to prevent the spread of the pandemic," cautions UWA executive director Sam Mwandah. "Trips to the parks are to be carried out in compliance with the laws stipulated by President Museveni and the Ministry of Health."

 

 

 

"Groups of more than 25 passengers will not be allowed in but given an option to split into smaller groups. Events like weddings in the park which are in vogue and Saloon vehicles are now prohibited."

 

 

 

Travelers are advised to carry their sanitizers and face masks except for red ones because they may scare some mammals.

 

 

 

"Rest assured in all the parks as we have trained and equipped our 1600 rangers on the ground to protect them and our clients from COVID-19 infection" said Mwandah.  "The cars and boats are also adhering to the law of carrying half capacity of the conventional load."

 

 Buffalo,s in Murchison Falls National Park. (Photo by AHAMED MUKWAYA)

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the Lockdown Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) donated nine tones of beans and maize flour to feed rangers and their families during the COVID-19 Lockdown.

 

 

 

"Proof that a good job is being done was the good news of two newly born gorillas to the Mubare and Kirungi groups during the COVID -19 Lockdown," said Mwandah.  "We hope to peak our 40, 000 permits sold last year when tracking them is open soon."

 

 

 

Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) executive director James Musinguzi says management will soon announce the opening date with the safety requirements observed to the dot.

 

 

 

"For example, handwashing and sanitizing are now mandatory at the entrance," stresses Musinguzi.  "It is compulsory for entrants having their temperature taken using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the entrance."

 

 

 

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO Lilly Ajarova urged citizens to use this time to explore what is in their back yard while going abroad endangers their lives during the globally threatening COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

"Statistics have it that more than 200,000 Ugandans go abroad on holiday leaving treasures in their back yard," noted Ajarova. "Now that Coronavirus is being managed at home, domestic tourists are safer in the borders of our country."

 

Tourism staggers back in action after lockdown ease

 

 

 

TOURISM 

 

 

 

KAMPALA - Tourism is staggering back to its feet after being paralyzed by the Coronavirus Lockdown since March.  This follows the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) announcing the opening-up of some protected areas like Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Semiliki National Park.

 

 

 

"This is under strict laws to prevent the spread of the pandemic," cautions UWA executive director Sam Mwandah. "Trips to the parks are to be carried out in compliance with the laws stipulated by President Museveni and the Ministry of Health."

 

 

 

"Groups of more than 25 passengers will not be allowed in but given an option to split into smaller groups. Events like weddings in the park which are in vogue and Saloon vehicles are now prohibited."

 

 

 

Travelers are advised to carry their sanitizers and face masks except for red ones because they may scare some mammals.

 

 

 

"Rest assured in all the parks as we have trained and equipped our 1600 rangers on the ground to protect them and our clients from COVID-19 infection" said Mwandah.  "The cars and boats are also adhering to the law of carrying half capacity of the conventional load."

 

A mountain gorilla in Bwindi park. (Photo by AHMED MUKWA)

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the Lockdown Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) donated nine tones of beans and maize flour to feed rangers and their families during the COVID-19 Lockdown.

 

 

 

"Proof that a good job is being done was the good news of two newly born gorillas to the Mubare and Kirungi groups during the COVID -19 Lockdown," said Mwanda.  "We hope to peak our 40, 000 permits sold last year when tracking them is open soon."

 

 

 

Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) executive director James Musinguzi says management will soon announce the opening date with the safety requirements observed to the dot.

 

 

 

"For example, handwashing and sanitizing are now mandatory at the entrance," stresses Musinguzi.  "It is compulsory for entrants having their temperature taken using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the entrance."

 

 

 

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) CEO Lilly Ajarova urged citizens to use this time to explore what is in their back yard while going abroad endangers their lives during the globally threatening COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

"Statistics have it that more than 200,000 Ugandans go abroad on holiday leaving treasures in their back yard," noted Ajarova. "Now that Coronavirus is being managed at home, domestic tourists are safer in the borders of our country."

 

 

 

The Uganda Tourism Sector has been hardest hit by the outbreak of COVID-19.

 

Despite the vibrancy and success recorded in recent years, the tourism sector has been hardest hit by the outbreak of COVID-19.

(By Uganda minister Daudi Migereko)

In Uganda, Tourism has been the leading foreign exchange earner, accounting for $1.6b. The sector has been contributing approximately 8% of the GDP and supported 667,600 jobs directly and 1.6 million jobs indirectly. Therefore, the sector's growth has had a tremendous impact on our economy.

 

The most lucrative tourist source markets are the epicenter of COVID-19. There has been a lockdown of States. Movement/travel embargo has become inevitable. Most of the airlines have suspended operations. All hotels and tour operators in Uganda have received numerous travel and booking cancellations. The majority have suspended operations. The entire tourism sector is at a halt with business running out of liquidity.

 

 

 

At the East African Community (EAC) level, a recent study by the East African Business Council (EABC) says the EAC Partner States will potentially lose about 6.2 million tourists and receipts of upwards of $5.4b for the year 2020; due to COVID-19 and the associated inevitable restrictions. The trickle-down effects will be felt across affiliated industries and the rest of the economies within the region.

 

 

 

Needless to say, the tourism sector is now characterized by a rather pessimistic outlook. This is compounded by the fact that most reports coming from the scientists indicate that a COVID-19 vaccine or cure will only be available probably within a year's time.

 

 

 

The aforementioned economic environment entails peculiar challenges in the tourism sector making it difficult to fulfill obligations, especially statutory, debt servicing, and utility payments.

 

 

 

A government directive granting moratorium; on servicing or payment of dues was sought to cover this period of uncertainty. Similarly, payment of domestic arrears by Government was sought. None of the businesses would want to be found in default because the penalties are punitive. Often times, bordering to business closure.

 

 

 

The fear of foreclosures and or businesses failing to restart is real. The interventions sought by the private sector (UHOA, UTA, AUTO, UTB, and others) are meant to uphold the gains made in the sector in the recent past. These include the unprecedented number of indigenous-owned hotels, lodges, tour and ticketing companies; the increased number of students in tourism schools and institutions, and of course the increment in contribution towards tax payment, forex inflow, and the GDP. The Government has indicated that the interventions sought are being attended to.

 

 

 

In the meantime, what is it that the industry can do to sustain the gains so far registered as we wait for COVID-19 to clear and the situation to return to normal?

 

 

 

For the private sector, the unfortunate temporary virtual closure of facilities can create an opportunity for the business owners and managers to take a second look at their businesses for purposes of re-engineering and re-inventing them.

 

 

 

For instance, reviewing operations, coming up with better plans, improved facility designs and arrangements, bedroom setup, cuisine and menu changes, system changes to promote efficiency and enhance competitiveness; Contingency planning for the future; creation of new rules and cancellation policies; greater staff ability to work using virtual technology; upgrading company websites; travel and tourism industry coming together to collaborate; local operators seeing the value in sourcing travelers from the domestic and regional markets; Upgrading managerial capacity on business crisis recovery action, etc.

 

 

 

In this regard, the Government needs to support the private sector access funding to allow for some of these modifications, changes, and upgrades. Once this support is granted, the Ugandan tourism and hospitality facilities would be highly attractive/competitive and hence patronized by tourists when the situation returns to normal. 

 

 

 

On the part of the Government and its agencies (UWA, UWEC & UTB); the game parks and zoos, which are major tourists attraction and generating a lot of revenue, without tourists, will require special funding support, during this period, to sustain the conservation gains so far realized. Secondly, there is a need to prioritize and fund the improvement and development of our tourism attraction sites. Funds permitting, these need to be urgently planned, designed, and developed to acceptable international standards.

 

 

 

They must all be accessible by good roads, air, or water connection; have reliable power, water, communication or IT connection/supply. The sites must have a resting area, with a kitchen, restaurant, and modern bathrooms as these are lacking at most of our sites. Alternatively, within the vicinity of the site, there must be a hotel or lodge offering competitive products at affordable rates.

 

 

 

Arrangements for production, display, and selling quality souvenirs would also be worked on. In effect, this period would enable us to come up with highly competitive products.  Meantime, UTB working closely with UWA, our embassies, other government agencies/authorities, and the private sector will continue coming up with and delivering appropriate marketing messages to the country, region, and world.

 

 

 

The outstanding leadership of President Yoweri Museveni has provided in the fight against COVID-19; where the spread has so far been well handled and the impressive recovery rate of the sick registered creates an opportunity for Uganda to reposition herself in the area of medical tourism similar to the one which emerged during the fight against HIV/AIDS.

 

 

 

Many professional and benchmarking meetings and conferences are likely to come to Uganda. If this could be coupled with enhanced improvements in our health system, adequately equipping and remunerating our medical teams as the President emphasized in his Sunday, April 19, 2020 address to the nation, many patients from Africa would end up in Uganda for treatment.

 

 

 

After all, the message is now clear that the European and Asian countries, where we have been sending our VIP patients, have enough patients of their own and will not have space, time, and resources for those from Africa.

 

 

 

Fortunately, already a good number of patients from some Afri-can countries have been accessing specialized treatment at Nakasero Hospital, Nansana Urology Hospital, etc. Incidentally, whenever we meet medical experts from Western countries, we are reminded that in the 1960s and early 70s, Mulago was one of the world's leading cancer and ophthalmological studies and treatment centers.

 

 

 

Mulago has just been refurbished. We urgently need to see a return on that investment. All that Mulago needs is to be equipped with the state-of-art equipment, capitalize on its brand name, and properly remunerate its experienced medical professionals.

 

 

 

We shall then be in a position to easily promote and support medical tourism as a country. This will in turn enable us to earn part of the $1b, which Africa has been spending on treatment of her VIPs in Europe and Asia. I believe we shall have emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger. Our Minister of Health and her team will, again, be saluted on a job well done.

 

 

 

While our main focus is to reposition our tourism industry, we are aware that tourism thrives only where there is guaranteed peace and security. Without a doubt, the NRM government has succeeded in mainstreaming matters of peace and tranquility in the country. This is something we must take advantage of.

 

 

 

Equally, matters of economic growth and development are critical to the growth of tourism numbers are they domestic or from outside source markets. It is a fact that in order for citizens of a country to be able to plan and undertake travel as tourists, they must be gainfully employed, with access to disposable income, ready to save and ready to develop a travel culture.

 

 

 

It will, therefore, be necessary for Uganda to restructure her economy to redirect labor towards the highly productive and rewarding agro-processing, manufacturing, service, and IT sectors; where incomes are meaningful. Since tourism is leisure and business travel, creating domestic tourism demand will be possible with an increase in household incomes, which is certainly possible through industrialization.

 

 

 

This will entail pursuing strategic programs, which will lead to riding the country of subsistence agriculture and elimination of over-dependence on imports, foreign manpower, and companies.

 

 

 

We shall, however, need to identify key flagship industries upon which other industries can an-chor to takeoff. This is what partly explains the emergence of Asia as the factory of the world and the increased flow of tourists from Asia especially China. This in part ex-plains China's domestic self-reliance in terms of consumption of tourism products.

 

 

 

Therefore, for Uganda and other African countries to ensure the survival of the tourism the sector, the general takeoff of our economies, with a clear focus on sectors that can create meaningful jobs, ensure enhanced purchasing power within our economies and curtail capital flight, is critical.

 

 

 

This will give our people the capacity and means to participate in domestic and intra-Africa tourism; as is now being looked at as one of the avenues of sustaining the sector. Meantime, we should also continue courting the traditional source markets in anticipation of better times, in the post-COVID-19 period.

 

 Written By Chairman of the Uganda Tourism Board

 

 

 

 

 

UWA has received 15 tonnes of maize flour, 6 tonnes of beans and 500 litres of cooking oil from AWF to support rangers to carry out their day to day duties amidst the COVID 19 pandemic that has seen a drop in revenue earning for UWA.

The handover of these items happened at Uganda Museum today the 29th of June 2020. While handing over the items on behalf of AWF to UWA’s Director- Conservation John Makombo, Sudi Bamulesewa noted that the items were emergency items donated to ensure the conservation work goes on unhindered by the

current crisis.

 

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) was implementing its COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan in its priority landscapes to address conservation and socioeconomic issues. Some of the detailed activities under this include; Protected Area patrols, canines Programme support, community livelihoods, community human-wildlife conflict mitigation, community awareness programmes among many others.

John Makombo the Director Conservation flanked by members of top management thanked AWF for the great contributions made not only today but overtime for the past 20 years.

He noted that the organization has been one of the strong partners. He noted that the gesture will be a strong morale booster for the foot rangers who will be the beneficiaries.

He said that the food will be put to good use and such support supplementary efforts will not go in vain.

DC emphasised that much as interest in game meat is on the rise, UWA is alert doing patrols and monitoring every pocket of the park to rise to the challenge and argued those with intentions to go illegally in the park to desist.

The items received were immediately dispatched to the various conservation areas for distribution.

Nkuringo: safe and stable*.  It had to be Nkuringo. Concerns had been raised about the stability of this group after it lost a silverback-Rafiki recently.

From the drop off point, we took about 1 hour to Kihinje buffer zone, where we found the heath family feeding.



The group of 11 individuals is intact with 4 black backs and 3 infants. It was fascinating to watch Furaha, one of the mothers adjust the position of the baby while moving and feeding. The other females were less concerned with our presence. The family has since settled under the leadership of Lwamutwe, the dominant black back.  But Tabu and the other two black backs are ready to help.

The morning trackers had left them within the same area yesterday.

Interestingly,  there are two more families in the area, namely Christmas and Bishabo, which can be tracked from here, in addition to another group under habituation. With 3 trackable families, we are ready to go.

Prior to this, the staff at Gorilla Safari Lodge gave their best experience to one man visitor. Their response was swift but like the neighbor Rushaga gorilla camp, there is no real business till primate parks are open and international travel eased.



We moved with UPDF colleagues, that usually give support when needed.

The road leading Nkuringo from Ruhija was smooth since it had been recently graded. No usual speeding traffic on the otherwise winding roads on the tough terrain of Kigezi.

Please enjoy the Nkuringo experience with me

 
 
According to the New York Times, ‘Uganda – the Primate capital and birder’s paradise’ should be one of the 52 places to visit in 2020 because of its rich culture, diversity of people, exotic wildlife and rich ecosystems.
 
Uganda safaris a top destination for Gorilla trekking and mountaineering adventures while in Africa
 
Lesotho, Egypt. Kenya and Ethiopia are the other African countries on the list that also includes the British Virgin Islands, Bolivia, Greenland, Australia among others.
 
 
“Landlocked in east-central Africa, Uganda has long been in the shadow of Kenya, Tanzania and other countries more popular with visitors on safari. But the “Pearl of Africa,” with its own rich wildlife, is set to become more accessible, thanks to the resurrection last summer of the country’s the national carrier, Uganda Airlines,” the New York Times writes.
 
It adds: “Uganda is one of the world’s primate capitals, with 15 species (four of which are endangered) and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, in southwestern Uganda, is home to roughly half the world’s mountain gorillas.
The park’s gorilla trekking safaris limit contact to eight visitors per gorilla group per day, and proceeds from their trekking permits go toward conservation efforts and protecting the animals from poachers. The dense forest mountain park, which ranges in elevation between 3,810 feet and 8,880 feet, also features a scenic waterfall trail framed by ancient ferns and wild orchids, and is a birder’s paradise, with 350 species of forest birds.”
 
Apart from Gorillas, Uganda is endowed with other wild animals such as Lions, Buffaloes, Elephants, Rhino and the Leopard – commonly known as the ‘Big Five’.
 
These can be found in any of the 10 National Parks which are Murchison Falls, Mgahinga Gorilla NP, Rwenzori Mountains, Kidepo Valley, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Semuliki Valley, Mt Elgon, Kibale Forest, and Bwindi Impenetrable national parks.
 
Just like Bwindi which is famed for Gorilla trekking safaris activities, each of these parks in Uganda has something unique to offer.
 
Most adventurous travelers that select to visit Uganda take the chance to enjoy hiking and trekking the Rwenzoris, also known as Mountains of the moon.
 
Rwenzori Mountains National Park, located in the Rwenzori Mountains, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its extraordinary natural beauty and here tourists can enjoy a trek to the highest point in Uganda, the Margherita Peak as they take in the beauty of the numerous waterfalls as well, a variety of flora and fauna.
 
On the other hand, the Semuliki National Park is not only famous for the Sempaya Hot Springs but also boasts well-tended trails for a soothing nature walks.
 
The park, the smallest of the 10 national parks is also home to primates such as the grey-checked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees, De Brazza’s monkey as well as pygmy antelope and elephants. For the birders, Semiliki which lies on the western side of the Rwenzori mountains hosts several bird species.
 

Besides the national parks, tourists can take in the visit the source of the River Nile, the longest river in the world, or check out the Sipi Falls Uganda, a chain of three waterfalls in Kapchorwa district as well as Lake Bunyonyi said to be the deepest lake in the world in Kisoro and Kabale districts