The Management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) yesterday named a newly born gorilla after Minister of Tourism Hon Tom Butime.
The Minister on Friday visited Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and trekked the Ruhegura Gorilla group.
According to UWA spokesperson Bashir Hangi, the management in honour of the minister decided to name one of the baby gorillas after him.
This particular baby he said was born to the group on August 27, 2020.
Minister Butime was in the park to officially re-launch primate tourism in the country following the suspension of the activity on March 25, 2020.
Butime said during the visit that the suspension was a painful but necessary undertaking in order to protect both the primates and humans from possible infection of the coronavirus. He observed that the suspension had a negative impact on UWA revenues hence its operations.
“Gorilla tourism accounts for over 70% of UWA’s revenue and therefore its suspension has had a negative effect on the revenues of UWA and some of its operations had to be scaled down giving priority to wildlife protection”.
Minister Butime further said that the suspension of primate tourism activities affected not only the economy but also the local communities.
“People neighbouring the protected areas have been getting 20% revenue share from gate collections and communities here also get 10 dollars gorilla levy on every gorilla permit sold, all this has been negatively affected”
The Minister reiterated governments commitment to the safety of visitors who come to Uganda saying that the Ministry has put in place adequate standard operating procedures (SoPs) for the sector that would help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
He revealed that Government is committed to revamping the tourism sector citing opening borders and the airport is one of the key interventions of government.
“Now that the sector is fully open, our next course of action is to market Uganda post covid-19 so that we attract people from different walks of life to come and visit our beautiful country”.
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. Mountain gorillas particularly are Uganda’s prized tourist attraction, contributing a large share of tourism earnings to UWA’s operations.
He observed that the opening of the country’s International boarders including Entebbe International Airport, a key tourist entry point to the country to our visitors is a demonstration of the President’s commitment to the revamping of the tourism sector in Uganda.
As Uganda Wildlife Authority, to support resurgence of tourism, we are putting in place measures to support recovery. Some of the measures include a raft of incentives to both individual visitors and tour operators.
“For example, for every 30 gorilla permits bought, the tour operator gets two permits free. Every gorilla permit purchased entitles a visitor to free entry to Mount Elgon National Park or Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Filming fees have also been reduced to enable creation of material for marketing.