Today marks another milestone in the improvement of tourism services in the national parks as Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) signs concession agreements with three companies for the operation of private boats and launch cruises in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.
The contracts are being signed with:
- Adrift Adventure Co. Ltd – Queen Elizabeth National Park
- G & C Tours Ltd – Murchison Falls National Park
- MARASA Ltd – Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks
UWA’s 40-seater launches that are currently in use in the two parks will continue to operate alongside the private boats and launches.
The three companies were selected through a competitive bidding process as provided for by the PPDA public procurement regulations. A fourth private operator will also come on board as soon as negotiations are complete. Private companies operating in Murchison Falls National Park will each have two 40-seater launches and two 10-seater boats, while those for Queen Elizabeth National Park will each have one 40-seater launch and two 10-seater boats.
UWA is introducing the private launches and boats at a time when the number of local and foreign tourists to the protected areas is increasing rapidly, with the result that, very often, demand for tourism services outstrips supply by far.
The introduction of private launch cruises is expected to boost the experience of tourists in the two national parks, as it will provide more options for deciding the time and duration they can undertake this activity. Currently, the only launch cruises available to tourists are those managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and they are run on a tight schedule. Tourists are sometimes unable to enjoy this tourist activity due to shortages of space on the UWA boats.
UWA made the decision to introduce private launches and boats in order to improve the quality of services to tourists and other clients, increase on the capacity of existing launches and boats, ensure that launch and boat services are available any day any time for tourists and to increase visitation to the protected areas.
UWA may introduce other private providers of launch cruise services in future or authorise the existing concessionaires to operate additional boats should the demand for the services warrant such increase in boat numbers.
The private operators will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery for this tourist activity, which is very popular among tourists and always marks the highlight of visits to the parks.