When the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) re-advertised majority of its positions following a major restructuring exercise, many tourism lovers did not expect Lilly Ajavora to take up the lead role at the agency.
But today, as we all know it, Ms Ajarova is the new Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UTB after nearly a year-long search for the right candidate. In a Thursday January 10 announcement in Kampala, Tourism State minister Godfrey Kiwanda declared Ms Ajavora the new UTB ED/CEO.
UTB is the government agency responsible for marketing and promoting Uganda as a tourist destination.
Ms Ajarova, a lone female candidate, was shortlisted in December 2018 for the job, in a competition with two other candidates Andrew Sseguya and Bradford Ochieng. Mr Sseguya is the former Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) boss, while Mr Ochieng worked as the Director Corporate Affairs at the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets.
The outgoing CEO Stephen Asiimwe, who has been steering the wheel at UTB since 2014, did not show renewed interest in the job.
Hitherto, Ms Ajarova has been the Executive Director of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Who Ajarova is
Ajarova studied tourism at the International College of Tourism & Management Austria (1996); and she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from Makerere University (1994). Before her graduation, she amassed experience through working with Sheraton and Delmira Tours and Travel, among other employers.
After graduation she was appointed the Tourism Development Manager at UWA. While at UWA, she marketed Uganda’s gorillas, among other assignments.
In her conversation with Daily Monitor, a local daily, in 2017, Ms Ajarova said: “My job jurisdiction, among other things, included getting the gorilla tourism sector developed and marketed. This included developing guidelines, training the guides, setting the rules and the system for selling gorilla permits to tour operators.”
In 2005 she was appointed ED at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a position she has held for a dozen years.
Ms Ajarova has also served as a member of the Advisory Committee of Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and she also chaired the Committee of UTB. She was a member on the Board of Uganda Conservation Society, a Board in charge of directing Quality Assurance. She sits on various management Boards.
The new UTB boss has been awarded various awards including the National Golden Jubilee Award 2015, Tourism Excellence Award in 2017 and Wildlife Conservation Award also of 2017.
Only recently in 2018, Ms Ajarova was selected among Africa’s Top Travel 100 Women as a leader, pioneer and innovator – little wonder that she trounced the two men to take up the position of UTB leadership as CEO.
Ms Ajarova will be deputized by Mr Bradford Ochieng who sought to take the CEO slot in the interviews. Mr Ochieng appeared on both the CEO and Deputy CEO shortlists drafted by the Public Service Commission. He beat six other contenders, including seasoned communications expert and journalist Simon Kasyate, to the winning position.
Ms Ajarova is a family woman.