Monday, May 26, 2014

UWA versus tour operators

The fury was palpable as the sun scorched tour industry operators protested the online purchase of gorilla tracking permits.

UWA versus tour operators

Employees in the tourism chain of services protest online permits. Herbert Byaruhanga and Boniface Byamukama addressing a press conference in Kololo

They asked government to improve the infrastructure to different destinations, aggressively market Uganda and cut taxes if they are to compete with their East African Community counterparts.

“It is not the online permit that is going to make the sales of permits 100 percent,” the AUTO chairman Boniface Byamukama told a press conference.
“Tourism has both low and high seasons on the calendar. What is needed are better connecting roads, affordable air travel to different destinations and a bigger budget in marketing.”
“Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) should stick to conserving nature which is threatened by poaching,” said Byamukama with a creased forehead.

Angry tour operator gathered in Kololo in protest of availing gorilla tracking permits online
“The rangers’ working terms should be improved for the better image of our country. Facebook went viral when someone posted a comment about tourist having to share their portions of lunch with visibly starved rangers.”
This protest comes in rapid succession of media exposure by UWA executive director, Dr. Edward Seguya blaming the minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Maria Mutagambwa for delaying to flag off of the online availing of permits to visitors.
Dr. Seguya assured MPs while touring different packages that, UWA would work well with e-marketing because tourists would not go through the existing bureaucracy.
“UWA would get an extra sh20b annually,” said Dr. Seguya.
Rejecting his views Barbra Vanhelleputte says if UWA wants more tourists, they ought to introduce more packages, urging government to plough more money in marketing the destination and improve the infrastructure.
“Avail air transport at affordable rates to Kidepo, the source of The Nile and Bwindi Forest and you will see miracles happen,” said Vanhelleputte.
Making his closing remarks, Byamukama asked for a forensic audit of UWA business.
“The way this online thing is being fast tracked leaves a lot to be desired,” said Byamukama. “The disappearance of ivory from UWA stores makes me sniff a dead rat.” Author

UWA, NGO sign pact to boost tourism in Uganda

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Conservation Trust to boost tourism in Uganda.

UWA, NGO sign pact to boost tourism in Uganda
Executive Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lilly Ajarova and the Executive director UW,A Andrew Sseguya signing a memorandum of Understanding at Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe

The Chimpanzee Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) is a non-governmental organization. Established in 1998, it promotes the understanding, appreciation and conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats in particular. 

“With this partnership we would like to increase the marketing of tour in Uganda by training the communities. We shall also have joint training of the staffs and sharing management skills,” said Andrew Seguya UWA executive director.

He said with MoU in place, the two organizations will be in position to rescue and care for the orphaned chimpanzee as well as the welfare and conservation of the endangered species.

Executive Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lilly Ajarova and the Executive Director UW,A Andrew Sseguya signing a memorandum of Understanding at  Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe

Sseguya said that the new innovation is to ensure that even those who have forests with wild animals are encouraged not to cut down.

He said the move is intended to create awareness among the community so that the tourism industry is handled in effective and efficient manner.

Sseguya made the remarks during the signing ceremony at Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe.

The executive director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Lilly Ajarova, welcomed the new partnership saying it will promote the conservation of chimpanzee and the environment.

She stressed the need of having more land to keep the animals for tourist attraction especially around the Albertine region and appealed to the communities to leave the area. 

“We are going to engage the communities to leave the areas where we have earmarked for tourism”, Ajorova said. author

Qatar Airways makes maiden flight to Uganda

ENTEBBE - Qatar Airways has made its maiden flight to Uganda. Flight QR536 landed at Entebbe Airport Wednesday a few minutes past 1.00pm.

Qatar Airways makes maiden flight to Uganda.

On board the nonstop flight from Doha was the company’s Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al baker and foreign journalists.

The Qatar entourage was met by State minister for transport Stephen Chebrot. The minister encouraged Qatar Airways to also venture into cargo flights so that Uganda can be able to export its fresh produce to the Middle East.

Akbar said demand from all over the world prompted their entry into the market. “Passenger demand prompted this new route and I’m excited that we are able to bring our award- winning Five start services to Uganda for the first time.”

Meanwhile, Uganda has been rated as the number one country to visit next year by Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guidebook and digital media publisher.

Lonely Planet which has been publishing tourism guidebooks for about 40 years, released its list of best destinations in the world over the weekend, reports Raymond Baguma.
Uganda emerged as the number one destination following a survey that included opinions from travellers, bloggers and tweeters and votes by a panel of in-house travel experts.
ganda topped the list of top 10 countries ahead of Myanmar (Burma), Ukraine,  Jordan, Denmark, Bhutan, Cuba, New Caledonia, Taiwan and Switzerland.
The book cites some must-see places as the Ssese Islands, Lake Bunyonyi and Jinja. It also talks about Uganda’s national parks with luxury lodges, outdoor camping, game viewing and Kampala which is one of Africa’s safest capital cities.
The tourist guide also points out to intending tourists to witness next year (2012), when Uganda will be marking 50 years of independence.
Lonely Planet said: “It’s taken nasty dictatorships and a brutal civil war to keep Uganda off the tourist radar, but stability is returning and it won’t be long before visitors come flocking back.

After all, this is the source of the River Nile – that mythical place explorers sought since Roman times. It’s also where savannah meets the vast lakes of East Africa and where snow-capped mountains bear down on sprawling jungles.”
Also, Lonely Planet recommends Uganda as a holiday destination for adventure travel to track gorillas, water rafting and mountain gorilla trekking. Also, there are other pleasures offered in the tranquil beaches of the country’s numerous lakes.
Amos Wekesa, the president of the Uganda Tourism Association, said Uganda should prepare itself for an increase in tourist numbers following the global ranking.
He said the challenge ahead is for Uganda to train tour guides in order to take advantage of the job opportunities that will come with the anticipated increase in  the number of tourists.
Wekesa said Uganda has an absolute advantage in tourism over her neighbours in the East African region.
“Uganda has the highest density of primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees and baboons in East Africa. However, the country’s tourism potential is untapped yet the sector can market Uganda globally,” Wekesa said.
He also suggested that the Government increases the budgetary allocation to the tourism sector in order to develop it; as well as revamping  the tourism bodies with competent personnel.
Currently, Uganda receives about 500,000 tourists and earns over $650m in revenue from tourism every year.
Uganda invests $300,000 in tourism annually, which is the lowest among the East African countries. For instance, Kenya invests $23m, Tanzania invests $10m and Rwanda  $5m.
Uganda’s potential to attract tourists will also be boosted by this year’s international survey that found Kampala to be one of the cheapest cities in Africa to live in for expatriates.
Ranked at position 202 in the world, Kampala fares a lot better than Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam (187) and Kenya’s Nairobi (108).
This gives Kampala an edge over its East African counterparts as an attraction for highly-skilled foreign labour.

Etihad launches cargo flight to Entebbe hence promoting Uganda Tourism

Etihad Airways will today launch its inaugural weekly cargo flights between Abu Dhabi and Entebbe Airport.
Etihad launches cargo flight to Entebbe

According to the online publication Gulf Business, the weekly service is expected to carry large quantities of electronics and textiles to Uganda, with the return flight primarily loaded with perishable goods for the Gulf region and Europe.

The direct cargo service will operate every Monday using an Airbus A330-200F freighter, with a capacity of 64 metric tonnes, Etihad said in a statement.

Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways’ chief Strategy and Planning officer, said: “Uganda is an important market for Etihad Cargo, and the new Abu Dhabi-Entebbe freighter service will allow us to capitalise on the strong import and export demand to and from East Africa.

“In addition, whilst we expect to see strong onward trade flows over our Abu Dhabi cargo hub to destinations across the Middle East, subcontinent and Europe, ultimately this service will further strengthen the trade ties between the UAE and Uganda Tourism

Etihad Cargo, which offers services to 103 destinations internationally, recently announced that it carried 127,821 tonnes of freight and mail in the first quarter of this year, up 26 per cent from the previous year. Revenues during the period reached $243 million.

The cargo operator currently has a fleet of nine freighters, consisting of three Airbus A330-200F, three Boeing B777F, and three Boeing 747F. It will take delivery of one new freighter, an Airbus A330-200F, next month.

Friday, May 9, 2014

UWA needs Shs107 billion to re-plant trees on Mt Elgon park

Parliament- More than Shs107 billion is needed to re-plant trees in degraded areas of the Mt Elgon National Park. Officials from the conservation agency yesterday told MPs that more than 2,000 hectares of tree cover have been wiped out by increased illegal human activities in the park which sits on the oldest and largest volcanic mountain in East Africa.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officials were appearing before the House Tourism, Trade and Industry Committee where they warned that the rate at which the park is losing its forest cover is worrying.
The officials said unless something is done to arrest the situation, the tourism potential there is threatened. “We have a budget of Shs54 billion yet at least Shs107 billion is urgently needed to plant trees in the park; to restore the degraded land in Mount Elgon National Park and Kibale,” said Ms Mirembe Ssenoga, the director finance and administration at UWA. Every year, the government earns more than Shs2.7 trillion from tourism. Mount Elgon National Park covers an area of 1,279 km² and sits astride the border of Kenya and Uganda
UWA officials also told MPs that an additional Shs20 billion is needed to erect an electric fence around Lake Mburo National Park. However, Ms Ssenoga who appeared before the Committee together with UWA board members to present their budget for 2014/15, said another Shs1 billion will be needed to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Uganda Martyrs: tracing the history

Effigies of the Uganda Martyrs wrapped in reeds at one of the memorials. 

Effigies of the Uganda Martyrs wrapped in reeds at one of the memorials.
As we countdown to June 3, when Christians remember the Uganda Martyrs, Daily Monitor will be running a series of stories about the more than 40 young men who lost their lives for faith’s sake.
Every year, on June 3, Christians from different parts of the world make their way to two shrines in Namugongo, some 15 kilometres east of Kampala city  and it acts as tourism site.
The shrines are commemorative grounds for the Uganda Martyrs — Catholic and Anglican Christian converts who were killed at the orders of Kabaka Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga Mukasa II between November 1885 and January 1887.
A martyr is someone who voluntarily suffers death as penalty for professing to and refusing to deny religion.
Reconstructing the history of the events and circumstances under which the martyrs lost their lives leads this journalist to Mapeera Nabulagala Catholic Parish at St John the Baptist church in Kasubi.
In his book Our Martyrs- A Golden Treasure, Rev Father Paul Gyaviira Muwanga writes that at this memorial church is also the final resting place of four out of the five catholic missionaries who first came to Uganda.
“It (the church) was built in 1939 during the time of Bishop Edward Michaud to mark 60 years since Catholicism arrived in Uganda,” he writes.
However, in a strange turn of events, J.F Faupel in his book, African Holocaust- the Story of the Uganda Martyrs writes that Mwanga took power, changing the relationship between Buganda and the missionaries. He notes that the young king lacked the character his father Kabaka Mutesa, who invited the missionaries, had. He undid what his father had initiated. He chased the missionaries.
Father John Mukasa Muwonge, a priest at Namugongo shrine and a respected historian on matters to do with the Uganda Martyrs says the first Christians to be executed were Noah Sserwanga, Joseph Lugalama and Mark Kakumba. These were killed on January 31, 1885 at Mpiimeerebera execution site in Busega. There is a church at the spot where they were killed.
Varying reasons for the killings
The parish priest of St John the Baptist, Kasubi, Father John Ssajjalyabene claims these executions emanated from Mwanga being a paedophile who used these pages as sexual partners.
“He wanted to use and spoil these children. The children had learnt Christian values and told him this was wrong and as such rejected his advances. He decided to banish them and burn them,” the priest explains.
“Mwanga lacked the balance and judgement possessed by his father. He was merely a boy, still in his teens, brought up without discipline and surrounded by evil counsellors who, taking full advantage of the Kabaka’s youth and gullibility, launched an intensive campaign of vilification against the missionaries,” Faupel describes Mwanga highlighting part of the reason that could have shaped his ideas on banishing and killing the Uganda Martyrs.
Gertrude Ssekabira in her book, Blood Ashes Martyrs: The Seed of the Gospel adds, “The storm of persecution reached its climax in the reign of King Mwanga. The new king, Mwanga, had all the barbaric vices of his father King Mutesa but missed out his good qualities.
A vain and vicious young man of eighteen, who despised the Christian followers of Mackay and longed to display his power. When his palace burned down one day, he put the blame on the Christians and began to persecute them.”
Ben Tenywa and Emmanuel Obong in their visual documentary titled The Heroes of June-Detailed story about the Uganda Martyrs, explain that the fire was not started by the Christian but by lighting from the skies. Mwanga only needed a reason to persecute the young believers. Already, these pages were beginning to make it known to Kabaka Mwanga that there was a greater king above him. The Christian converts told the king that he was just their brother and that he had no power to take life.
“The king was not to be questioned. The king consulted with his advisors and chiefs after realising the pages were no longer loyal to him. The chiefs recommended for their killings. The king could get more pages,” Tenywa narrates.
“They neglected their duties and spent most of the time attending religious instruction which did not go well with the king whose authority was not to be questioned,” George Mulumba Ssalongo, caretaker of Kasubi Royal Tombs explains.
The age aside Kabaka Mwanga, as Matthew Kabaale writes in Pilgrim’s Guide to the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine, felt that his original religion of the traditional religion Lubale, was being altered by the advent of Christianity.
However, Brother Tarcis Nsobya Munnakaroli, a researcher concerning Uganda Martyrs, in his book The African Heroes notes that when the Catholic Missionaries left this country on November 8, 1882 they abandoned their flock of 20 baptised and 300 catechumens.
“The Martyrs and the first Christians had a lot of problems in practising their religion. Those living in Munyonyo palace had to go to Nalukolongo a number of times at night under cover of darkness for religious instruction, reception of sacraments and mass,” Bro. Nsobya writes.
In October of 1885 Bishop James Hannington was murdered in Busoga on his way to Buganda on orders of Kabaka Mwanga. Balikuddembe, who was the head of the Catholic group was not happy with the murder and condemned Mwanga for it. This did not go down well with the king and had Bbalikuddembe arrested and killed on November 15, 1885.

After the killings
Filmmaker Hajji Ashraf Ssimogerere who made a movie about the Uganda Martyrs and says that not all martyrs were killed. One survivor was Hajji Abdul Aziz Nsubuga Bulwadda who was Kabaka Mwanga’s Swahili interpreter.

His grandson Hassan Bulwadda says that his grandfather was the only survivor of the Uganda Martyrs. “The only reason he was saved was because chief prosecutor Mukajjanga was his uncle,” he adds.
If Mwanga thought killing the converts would end his problems, he was wrong.
It was only the beginning. On August 27, 1894, Mwanga signed a treaty for the kingdom of Buganda to become a British Protectorate. Three years later he changed his mind and declared war on the British and launched an attack. He was defeated and fled to Tanzania where he was arrested and interned at Bukoba.
Unsatisfied he made a comeback and attacked the British protectorate. He was captured and in April 1899 was exiled to the Seychelles where he was reformed, baptised into the Anglican Church thus getting the name Danieri (Daniel). He died in 1903, aged 35 years. In 1910 his remains were repatriated and buried at Kasubi. It is hardly a month to another celebration to remember the martyrs and this year Christians celebrate 50 years since Pope Paul VI canonised 22 catholic martyrs on October 18, 1964.
About the church
St John the Baptist Church, Kasubi is a historical fixture as the point where the first martyrs were baptised. Parish priest Father John Ssajjalyabene Miiro says the first martyrs to be baptised were Joseph Balikuddembe born of a Mutoro mother and Muganda father, Matia Mulumba (from Jinja), Anderea Kaggwa from Bunyoro and Lukka Banabakintu from central Uganda.

The church is commemoratively a burial ground for the four martyrs and the priest at the time. On the same spot, Fr Ssajjalyabene adds, is where the first Catholic missionaries Father Siméon Lourdel and Brother Amans Delmas settled, when they arrived on March 7, 1879. “The land of approximately two miles was offered by Kabaka Mutesa,” he adds.