The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is upgrading its website system to let only registered Uganda tour operators to view and purchase the gorilla tracking permits online.
Jossy Muhangi, UWA’s Public Relations Manager, said that the system they had developed to kick start the programme allowed every one to view and purchase the permits globally. We still need to work on the systems to guarantee that the permits can only be seen and bought by registered Ugandan operators.
The issue of putting the permits online brought about disagreements late last year. The local tour operators were against the project arguing that it will put them out of business since big international tour agents and operators would buy all the permits.
Maria Mutagamba, the tourism minister, intervened and an agreement was reached to put the gorilla permits online, but only be viewed and purchased by Ugandan tour operators. Before this initiative, the tour operators would go to the reservation offices of UWA for inquiries and final purchase.
On January 13, 2014, representatives from AUTO, UWA and Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) held a meeting with the Minister.
They harmoniously resolved that gorilla permits will go online but will be viewed and booked by registered Uganda tour operators on behalf of individuals and international tour operators. However this would only happen after Uganda Wildlife Authority has tested the system and also trained tour operators on how to use the system.
However, Geoffrey Baluku, the Secretary General of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) thinks that UWA is put forward a challenging project.
“Tour operators are securing permits normally as it was before. It seems our UWA friends didn’t know what they were putting themselves into,” he said.