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Gov’t to Register & License All Tourism Enterprises

Lilly Ajarova, the Executive Director of the Uganda Tourism Board

Government through the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has announced a comprehensive initiative to register and license all tourism enterprises in the country, aiming to identify and eliminate illegal operators.

This move targets all unlicensed tourism enterprises, including hotels, restaurants, guest houses, tour operators, and travel agents, to ensure they comply with legal and industry standards.

Lilly Ajarova, the Executive Director of the Uganda Tourism Board, emphasized the importance of this exercise while addressing officers from the tourism police at Hotel Africana. Ajarova noted that any tourism enterprise operating without a license is doing so illegally, as stipulated by law.

Ajarova highlighted issues with some tour operators who defraud tourists, urging tourists to engage only with individuals and companies recognized and registered by the board. She pointed out that while many large facilities are already registered and licensed, numerous small facilities remain unregistered, violating the required accommodation standards.

The UTB plans to collaborate with key partners, including the police, to sensitize owners of accommodation facilities on the importance of licensing. This initiative will educate business owners about the minimum standards required, provide them with time to comply, and subsequently register and license their establishments before enforcement begins.

The registration and inspection fee for accommodation facilities is currently 100,000 Ugandan shillings, with an annual licensing fee of 200,000 Shillings. However, these fees are under review, and future charges may change. At present, only accommodation facilities have specified charges, while other types of tourism enterprises do not.

Ajarova stated, “We will carry out these exercises with our key partners, the Police force, to sensitize accommodation facility owners, whether they host national or international visitors.”

Patrick Lawot, the commandant of Tourism Police, acknowledged the need for a non-confrontational approach during enforcement to avoid resistance from the community. He noted that different stakeholders in the tourism sector often act independently of legal requirements, complicating enforcement efforts.

Lawot stressed the importance of continuous enforcement and sensitization, adding that tourism facilities requesting security from the Tourism Police must now be registered and licensed by the UTB.

The initiative aims to ensure that all tourism enterprises operate within the legal framework, improving service quality and protecting tourists from fraudulent operators.

-URN

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