The minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities,Tom Butiime, has said the suspension of primate tourism has greatly affected the industry in terms of revenue and it’s operation.
Butiime made the remarks at a function where the Uganda Wildlife Authority(UWA) officially relaunched primate tourism in the country at Buhoma Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Uganda Wildlife Authority in March suspended primate tourism, related research and filming following the confirmation of Covid-19 cases in the country and subsequently closed all the parks in April.
The savannah parks were reopened in July and the reopening of primate parks marks the full resumption of tourism activities in all protected areas.
Speaking at the relaunch, Butiime said the suspension was painful but necessary undertaking in order to protect both the primates and humans from possible infection of the coronavirus.
“Gorilla tourism accounts for over 70% of UWA’s revenue and therefore its suspension had a negative effect on the revenues of UWA and some of its operations had to be scaled down giving priority to wildlife protection,”he said.
The minister reiterated government’s commitment to the safety of visitors who come to Uganda saying that the ministry has put in place adequate standard operating procedures for the sector that would help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“As a ministry, we have since put in place standard operating procedure for the tourism sector so that we can restart tourism activities in a safer manner. We pay particular attention to the safety of our visitors and we will continue to do so to ensure every visitor who comes to Uganda returns home safely,”he added.
The Chairman UWA board of trustees,Dr. Pantaleon Kasoma said that the resumption of primate tourism is very significant because it is a major driver for visitors to come back and tour our country as primates are our flagship species.
He said mountain gorillas particularly are Uganda’s prized tourist attraction, contributing a large share of tourism earnings to UWA’s operations.
He thanked the President Museveni for easing the lockdown restrictions imposed since March.