The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) has today held an engagement with tourism business owners in the greater Kigezi area on professionalism and sustainable tourism development.
The meeting which was held at Cephas Inn Kabale was attended by over 100 tour companies from the districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri and Kanungu; as well as local leaders, representatives of the tourism police from within the area, district tourism officers and tourism investors.
Being the leading trade association representing the interests of the country’s most trusted tour companies, AUTO emboldened tourism businesses in this area to seek knowledge, be trained, licensed, certified in order to offer excellent services to Uganda’s tourists; both the domestic and international travelers.
Speaking at the meeting in Kabale, the AUTO Board Chairman Mr. Everest Kayondo emphasized the need to conduct business with the greatest level of integrity and professionalism.
“If you want to grow as a business and benefit from various incentives available for tourism businesses in the country, you must go formal to build a reputable company brand”, Mr. Kayondo said.
Gloria Tumwesigye the AUTO CEO encouraged tourism practitioners to adopt principles of sustainable tourism development in their operations, as this benefits everyone.
“As we encourage you to operate more professionally, we also call upon you to develop the type of tourism that not only benefits your businesses but also builds the communities and protects the environment”, Ms. Tumwesigye mentioned.
At the same event, the Deputy Mayor of Kabale Town Mrs. Mutabazi Kedress appreciated AUTO for organizing a very important stakeholders’ meeting which was the much needed addition to the efforts to achieve their goal of becoming the leading tourism city. She encouraged tour operators in the Kigezi area to belong to trade associations.
The dialogue falls upon a background of the growing number of tour companies and tour guides in the Kabale and Kisoro area premised on the fascinating lifestyle of the people, the presence of various tourist attractions like the stunning Lake Bunyonyi and more than half of the world’s Mountain gorillas in the neighboring Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which attracts local and international tourists annually to enjoy gorilla tracking safaris; an opportunity for the local community in this part of Uganda. The journey to the famous tree climbing lions of Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth National Park can also be enjoyed on a road trip through the Kigezi area.
The easy entry of new businesses in the tourism sector in the Kigezi area however presents challenges, principally the emergence of sham tour operators and this therefore calls for the need to regulate, license and professionalize the tourism business.
On the sidelines of the conference, the Board and Management of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators also visited Little Angels Primary school and Orphanage located on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi where they held a talk with the school leaders about the importance of inculcating an appreciation of the environment in their lessons for the children and the need to protect their unique heritage.
Because half of the students’ community and some of the teachers have to cross the lake every morning and evening, yet only a few of them wear lifejackets, AUTO donated 50 additional lifejackets on behalf of all members of the association, and 600 plates and cups to the students.