Uganda’s tourism marketing and promoting body, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) in collaboration with the Tourism Police has arrested a tourism operator who allegedly declined paying back an erroneous payment by the tourist.
According to UTB Spokesperson Sandra Natukunda, the suspect has been identified as Didan Atukunda from Mamba Gorilla Safari.
It is reported that a tourist (name withheld) erroneously paid $30,000 instead of $3,000 for a trip to trek Gorillas and he (Atukunda) declined to make the $27,000 refund, which compelled the tourist to contact the Uganda Tourism Board.
Initially, attempts by UTB to have Atukunda discuss a payment plan with the tourist didn’t yield any good which prompted the involvement of the Tourism Police.
Police would later embark on a search for the suspect before arresting him on Saturday morning at 2am from a bar in Kabale district.
According to the UTB, Quality Assurance Manager Samora Semakula, UTB has set up a Tourism security committee consisting of Tourism Police, MTWA and representation from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators with the let aim of tactfully handling fraud and any cases reported by tourists.
“Tourism is Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner. We can not continue to let rogue operators destabilise the growth that we are seeing in the sector. Most importantly we want tourists to enjoy their stay in Uganda. Our role is to ensure quality standards are met in the sector.” Mr. Semakula said.
This brings the number of rogue your operators so far arrested this year to two. In a separate operation, Tourism Police and UTB cracked down and arrested Mugerwa Ahebwa who defrauded American tourists of over $18,000. He is currently detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.
Ssemakula says the board will continue cracking down rogue operators to taint the reputation of the industry.
The tourism industry currently contributes 10 per cent to gross domestic product, making it Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner. The industry contributes more than $1.4b (Shs5.1 trillion) annually and is projected to earn about Shs10 trillion ($2.7b) by 2020.
Meanwhile, by publication time, the suspect was being driven to Jinja Police Station from Kabale for further investigations.