TOURIST SAFETY RANKS TOP AS UGANDA ADDS A FURTHER 400 TOURISM POLICE OFFICERS
(Posted 29th May 2015)
Formally launched on 28th of February 2012 with an initial contingent of 120 officers, has the Uganda Tourism Police since grown in size. The Commandant of the Tourism Police, ACP Wilson Omoding, has now confirmed that a further 400 officers and 4 officer cadets were added to the force after receiving several months of intensive specialized training in a range of topics. The curriculum, as he had explained some time ago, reflects on the special needs to tourism protection and ranges from client relations to field tactics. The overall number now stands at well over 1.000 such dedicated police officers who are based at safari lodges, tented camps, key hotels in Kampala and upcountry and major tourism attractions across Uganda. The new officers will probably see their first field deployment next week at the Namugongo Martys’ Shrine alongside regular police units when tens of thousands of Ugandans and many foreign visitors will attend the celebrations to commemorate the 51st anniversary of Uganda’s Catholic martyrs beatification.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Omoding in fact just returned from a field trip to the South West of Uganda where he inspected the deployment of some of his officers in Kisoro and Kabale, both springboards to the two gorilla national parks Mgahinga and Bwindi.
This added reassurance for visitors from abroad was further enhanced yesterday when the Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Dr. Andrew Seguya confirmed that the present low season promotion on gorilla tracking permits was to be extended until December this year. Under the scheme does a tracking permit for a single visit to the prized mountain gorillas cost only 150.000 Uganda Shillings for East African citizens, US Dollars 300 for foreign residents in Uganda and US Dollars 350 for non-resident tourists, compared with the high season rate of US Dollars 600. The scheme, launched three years, ago, has proved to be a key driver in selling permits during the low season period, raising permit sales by nearly 40 percent during the time in question. The extension of the special sales period has already been welcomed by key tourism stakeholders as a major support measure by UWA to spur demand for Uganda safari holidays for which tracking gorillas is the most high profile activity.