By Isaac Sebakijje | Resisting Technology In Uganda’s Tourism Defeats Sector Development!

Posted October 26, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Tourism ~ 3,081 views


mini-UWA card

I refer to the story published in New Vision on Thursday 17, 2013 entitled, “Why the controversy over gorilla permits”

In that story, it was reported that a war erupted between the Uganda Wild Authority (UWA) and the Uganda tour operators over selling the gorilla permits online. Some tour operators objected to the proposal of UWA’s plan to sell those permits online. The permits will be viewed by potential tourists worldwide online but still be sold through the tour operators at a pre-determined standard price. The tour operators claimed that they will lose business. I am simply puzzled that anyone can display hostility against technology in tourism or any other industry for that matter. This is a time when Uganda’s public and private sectors are embracing technology as an indispensable tool for efficiency and national development.

Since the advent of internet and information technologies, the tourism industry worldwide has undergone a profound transformation. The majority of travelers are seeking information via the internet before making any travel decisions. The CEO of Tourism Technology Association rightly stated that digital marketing , search engine marketing , mobile and location based marketing and a variety of other channels are there to reach the potential travelers and tourists.

That doesn’t mean that the industry will cease to be a people business. Providing service with a personal touch will remain one of the core tenets in this industry. Hospitality and tourism practitioners only utilize technology to increase efficiency and augment their interpersonal relationships with clients. Technology does not provide human warmth. Therefore, a tour operator will only be successful based on excellent customer service.

I would expect credible and farsighted tour operators to welcome the plan. It is a no brainer. In my comments published in the East African weekly newspaper as well as in the USA, I demonstrated how gorillas can no longer be the only attraction and that we need to diversify. However, wildlife, especially mountain gorillas, has been a selling point for Uganda. We will continue to capitalize on that as a bait to lure visitors to the country. Once in the country, tourists are more likely to patronize a variety of other attractions and events fetching more revenue for all.

Uganda has over 150 certified tour operators including international brand names. Many offer excellent service operating in the country and throughout the region. A lot of them will see the advantages of selling gorilla permits online. For example Amos Wekesa of Great Lakes Safaris responded by saying that selling gorilla permits online is the way to go. He speaks for operators who will continue to support any advance in technology that contributes to the hospitality and tourism development.

Being a tour operator is both challenging and rewarding. Those who are in this business simply for profits without any interest in travel, interpersonal and customer service skills will not prosper. The journey to success is fraught with challenges and strange situations that call for quick thinking and a great deal of resourcefulness.

Opponents of online gorilla permit sales must step back and re-evaluate what attracted them into this business and how they view the future of this industry. As the sector diversifies, there will be more to tourism than gorillas. Some operators will provide tour packages to schools and colleges. Others will deal in eco-tourism, luxury tours and travel, medical tourism, sports tourism, conference tourism, religious tourism and so on.

Whatever kind of tourism an operator provides, the principles of success will be the same. The operator needs to focus more on a genuine smiling face and a pleasant demeanor with service that lives up to or exceeds expectations. Selling gorilla permits online is an effective global marketing tool intended to support your business. More importantly, it will bring extra revenue needed by UWA to safeguard the gorillas whose permits you are selling. I urge tour operators to support this and more technologies ahead.

The writer is an experienced hotelier and tourism professional and Founder of Impactafrica Trade & Investments. Email:

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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