Kanungu, Uganda – Tourism Minister, Col (Rtd) Tom Butime has assured the public that Uganda’s national parks are safe to visit because the safety of tourists is given number one priority.
The Minister gave the assurance today while receiving a 12 unit ranger accommodation facility from the European Union (EU) delegation to Uganda in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
According to Butime, security in the national parks has been boosted ahead of the country’s re opening of its borders to international visitors.
“I want to use this opportunity to assure the public and the international community that our parks are very safe and secure,” Minister Butime said.
“The security of tourists in the parks is a high priority for the government and we shall continue to make strategic and operational interventions to ensure that our parks and other recreational facilities are safe for tourists,” he added.
He noted that Uganda’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was unrivalled and the country is one of the safest for people to visit.
“As a country, we are exemplary in the management of COVID-19 with a higher rate of recoveries. Our exceptional performance in managing COVID-19 coupled with amazing attractions especially in our protected areas makes Uganda the safest place that should be visited by any person intending to travel,” the Minister said.
He revealed that the the country’s ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is working closely with other relevant Ministries and agencies to come up with a mechanism of opening the country’s borders to allow international visitors into Uganda in a safer way.
Mr. Butime, said that it was important to have the outpost in Ishasha given the strategic nature of the area.
“This new Ranger post at Simama is very strategic and key in controlling poaching and other illegal activities in this part of Queen Elizabeth National Park,” Butime noted.
Africa Tembelea understands that this area was identified as one of the key hot spots for poaching during the preparation of the Park’s Law Enforcement Strategy a few years ago and for UWA to dominate the area and address the poaching threat, they needed a ranger post, which has now been built.
According to the Minister, tourists to the national park want to feel that they are safe and the existence of outpost provides that assurance.
He expressed gratitude to the European Union for funding the construction of the ranger outpost and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature Netherlands (IUCN NL), for supervising the construction.
Flanked by ambassadors from Italy, Ireland, Belgium, France, Austria, Hungary and the Ugandan ambassador to the Nordic countries Nimisha Madhvani, the EU Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Attilio Pacifici said the European Union is supportive of the growth of Uganda’s tourism sector and will give the required support.
“We know you have made great strides in conserving Uganda’s wildlife and we want to support you to do a better job of protecting the animals in the parks because your country’s tourism depends a lot on wildlife,” Amb Pacifici said.
The Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Sam Mwandha thanked the EU and IFAW for the support saying that the facility will motivate the rangers to work harder to ensure that wildlife in the area is protected.
According to Mwandha, all savannah parks are now open to the public and wildlife in all the parks continues to be protected protected.