By Watchdog reporter

Safari guides have been told to be honest if they are to protect and promote Uganda’s tourism products.

Uganda Tourism Board CEO Stephen Asiimwe told a group of tour guides who were passed by USAGA at the Uganda Museum in Kamwokya on Thursday that tour guides are the closest people to the tourists, and they ultimately determine the experience the tourist leaves with after visiting the country.

Asiimwe challenged the tour guides to be people of integrity and asked them to learn skills about their work, which is knowing Uganda like the back of their hands.

Demonstrating with stories of guides who have served very important people, Asiimwe told the guides to invest in themselves to be the best out there in their trade.

Asiimwe saluted USAGA who have built capacity for several players the tourism sector including security people serving under the Tourism Police.

The Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) was formed in 2000 by tour guides and specialists of tourism sub-activities such as birding, butterflies, reptiles, and cultural tourism, to provide a platform to increase their visibility and recognition as key actors in the tourism industry.

USAGA president Herbert Byaruhanga, an expert birder, said he is inspired to train more people for the industry whenever he realizes there are gaps.

“People have been marketing the country but don’t have product knowledge,” he said after the one week safari guides training. “We give people quality knowledge to become competitive on the continent.”

James Musinguzi, the executive director of Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe asked tour guides to visit the animal sanctuary most known as Entebbe zoo to familiarize themselves with the wildlife species and their habitats.

“We have a duty to transform Uganda into a tourism destination of choice,” Mr Musinguzi said, peppering his speech with tips on marketing Uganda.

The tourism police commander Wilson Omoding, who sent his staff for training called upon police officers to expedite cases of tourism.
“Tourists have no time,” he said, “they are here for three to four days and they have things to see and spend money in our country. Give them a good experience. Don’t ask too many questions. Solve their problems first,” Omoding said.