The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has come out to assure tourists that the border national parks in western Uganda are safe despite ongoing fighting in the Eastern Part of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
There has been growing speculation about the safety of tourists visiting national parks that share the birders with the Democratic Republic of Congo including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Lillian Nsubuga, the UWA Public Relations Manager said that UWA is working with security agencies and UPDF to maintain land, air and marine surveillance of the parks and borders to ensure safety of visitors.
Also, the wildlife body is working with Rwanda under the Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration (GVTC) to protect the mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif where clashes have occurred.
“This reassurance is aimed at assuring tourists that are planning to take vacations in Uganda that they have nothing to worry about their safety, and that they do not need to cancel their trips,” Nsubuga said in a statement.
Tourism is currently Uganda’s second highest foreign exchange earner, having brought in US$800m last year. Also, last year, Uganda was voted the best tourism destination for 2012 by the Lonely Planet.
She noted that tourist lodges and guest houses in western Uganda areas which border with the restive eastern DRC, have recently reported cancellations or postponements of visits by tourists.
However, other lodges such as Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Silverback Lodge in Bwindi reported not being affected and the reservations had been honored.
“UWA calls on the public especially communities neighboring the national parks to help in strengthening the security in their areas by reporting any suspicious people or activities in their vicinity,” Nsubuga said.