Key tourism issues discussed during AUTO Annual general meeting
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators held its annual general meeting on Friday 25th June 2015 at Serena Hotel Kampala where the new committee highlighted several key tourism achievements since they came into office last July. The meeting that started at 3:30pm ended at 6:30pm with a cocktail sponsored by Serena Hotel Kampala. Below are some of the key points discussed during the meeting.
UWA to give AUTO gorilla permits as commission.
It was revealed by the chairperson that due to their continued discussion with Uganda Wildlife Authority, a memorandum of understanding will be signed on 1st July 2015 where Uganda Wildlife Authority will start giving free gorilla permits to the Association of Uganda Tour Operators as a way of appreciating AUTO members in their role as one of the major partners in tourism. It was emphasized by the Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority that for every thirty gorilla permits purchased by AUTO members, UWA will give them free permits whose number is yet to be established. This will be implemented every after three months. Association of Uganda Tour Operators informed members present that the given gorilla permits will then be sold to members at a discounted rate. This excited members present who applauded the new committee for the well job done. Initially, Uganda Wildlife Authority used to give USD10 per permit bought by any member of Association of Uganda Tour Operators which was letter scrapped off. This development crippled the day today funding and running of the association since it used to depend on this commission as well as membership fee to raise funds to run the association. Having passed in a period of difficulty, this was seen as the right thing at the right time in the right direction.
Formulation of AUTO Five year strategic plan
The chairperson informed members present that Association of Uganda Tour Operators was not going to continue working without an approved plan. She said that the association had secured funds from UNDP (United Nations Development Project) to assist in funding a five year development plan which will be followed by the association to achieve the desired goals and objectives. She further told members present that The Association was out on the look for consultants who will be doing this job and assured members that before the close of 2015, this strategic plan will be complete and presented to members. He said that members will be consulted on what they think should be included in the plan so as to be looked at as an all-inclusive project.
Tax Consultant to be hired
It was further revealed that Tourism has been for the first time identified and earmarked by the government of Uganda as a key sector which could help the country to raise taxes as well as foreign exchange for the country and as such, tour operators who have been operating without taxes are likely to be targeted. She said that having organized a tax workshop early this year where members of the association of Uganda Tour Operators where advised on how to prepare their accounts in relation to taxes, the Association will now move to hire a tax consultant who will then be in position to advise members on tax issues so that they are not caught un aware by Uganda Revenue Authority.
AUTO cells introduced
The chairperson was quick to inform members present that The Association of Uganda Tour Operators had initiated a policy of bring their services closer to its members and other tour operators and as such it had launched a cell project where each district/region would meet with AUTO to discuss matters of tourism affecting each region and that cells had been formed and AUTO had meet with both members and none members to listen to them. She further noted that from this, many ideas and issues were raised and AUTO is working on them. Further to this, many members who were previously not AUTO members have registered to become members.
Other key issues including creating another category of membership which is slightly cheaper with less benefits was also discussed with members objecting it saying that it would be unfair for others to pay highly while others were paying less. All in all, this meeting proved to show that the new executive committee had achieved something in a short time and members now feel that they might start enjoying good fruits of voting wisely.