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Gov’t to professionalize, certify tour guides in order to boast sector

Stephen Asimwe CEO UTB addressing the tour guides who were passed out at Lake Mburo National Park. (Photo by Bob Aine)

MBARARA– The government of Uganda through the tourism ministry, wildlife and antiquities together with the Uganda Tourism Board have plans in the offing to ensure all tour guides in the tourism sector are professionals and certified.

Stephen Asimwe, the Chief Executive Officer Uganda Tourism Board made these remarks on Thursday morning at the Community education centre in Lake Mburo National park where 63 nature guides were passed out.

He noted that the tour guiding is a very big phenomenon that needs specialized guiding, especially in the bird species since Uganda has the largest bird species on the African continent.

He said that they have so far 700 registered guides who included generalized birders, specialized birders and site guides.

“It’s under the mandate of Ministry of Tourism, wildlife and antiquities and UTB as stipulated in the Tourism Act 2008 that we should have registered and certified guides under their known associations and we are proposing in the next review of the Act that any person to handle tourists must be registered and certified. So we want to look at the qualitative number rather than quantitative and we shall enforce it,” said Asimwe.

Asimwe was the chief guest standing in for Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the tourism minister.

Stephen Asimwe CEO UTB handing over a certificate to one the guides who completed a three weeks training. (Photo by Bob Aine)

He further asked tour guides to refrain themselves from getting involved in the country’s politics saying this negatively impacts on the tourism sector. “We emphasize that these guides be none partisan, whatever political views you have, leave them at home, the client you receive has nothing to do with the politics of the country since it biases clients.”

He said that tourist attraction hinges much on the first and lasting impression which entirely depends on the conduct and behaviors of guides who are supposed to create an enabling environment for the tourists to keep them coming.

Paul Ninsima, the sales Manager Uganda Wild Life Authority who represented the ED UWA noted that they have partnered up with private sectors in ensuring that they work with more organized groups that are professionals since guides are the first people to talk to tourists.

Evelyn Gakinyeza; one of the tour guides who was passed out said that they have been equipped with the skills in guiding, especially in birding, ecology and customer care.

However, she called upon the Uganda Wildlife Authority administration to always organize such training to help them better their work.

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