The stalemate had prompted the Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba to suspend the system until tour operators and travel agents wrote to Uganda Wildlife Authority telling them to go ahead with the system.
“Following our executive board meeting last week, it was agreed that you go ahead and put gorilla permits online to be viewed only by locally registered tour operators,” Auto chairman Boniface Byamukama wrote in a letter dated October 29. He however, said Uganda Wildlife Authority should generate a code where sales will be reviewed after this financial year to check if the system is working well before rolling it out officially.
Uganda Wildlife Authority in reply, said the system was beginning on January 1 and urged all intending tour operators to register with it to get necessary credentials to gain access to the system. “In consultation with the Hon Minister, Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, we would like to inform you that implementation of the gorilla online permit system is scheduled to start effective January 1 2014,” Doctor Andew Gunga Seguya, the executive director, Uganda Wildlife Authority, said in a letter dated December 23 reference TD0108/01.
Tour operators concern
Tour operators were concerned that putting gorilla trekking permits online for booking could put them out of business because it exposes them to international competition, where foreign travel companies could directly buy gorilla permits from Uganda Wildlife Authority instead of going through them.
Uganda Wildlife Authority, however, said the move was intended to increase the gorilla permit sales, which currently stand at 80 per cent compared to Rwanda that has sales of 90 per cent of its gorilla permits.
According to Mr Seguya, putting the gorilla permits online will be a great boost towards marketing Gorillas in Uganda as well as other tourist attraction.