The month of June will remain memorable for those private sector plays in the tourism industry who were honored with awards during a Business Breakfast hosted by Uganda Wildlife Authority that was attended by prominent businessmen, foreign diplomats, government officials and tourism experts.
UWA awarded Classic Africa Safaris Ltd with the Silverback Award for their sustained good performance in terms of gorilla permit sales, perseverance in times of turbulence, minimal cancellation of reservations, adherence to booking guidelines, positive feedback from tourists after doing safaris with them, professional guiding, good partner and client relations, and long stay in business.
UWA also awarded Geo Lodges Ltd with the Jumbo Hospitality Award largely because of the uniqueness and high quality of their accommodation facilities, adherence to good environmental standards, exemplary customer service and standards, direct linkages with local communities, eco-friendly facilities, value for money services, long stay in business and good partner relations.
The other award recipient was Great Lakes Safaris, who received the Chimpanzee Award for their entrepreneurial skills, high eco-tourism standards, high quality of facilities, community empowerment through employment and skills transfer, adherence to good environmental services, positive feedback from visitors and stakeholders, and good partner relations.
It was the first time Uganda Wildlife Authority was giving awards to its private sector partners for a job well done, and this gesture was extremely well received by various players in the wildlife and tourism sectors who felt that it would promote excellence and integrity in the provision of services.
Every single investor in the tourism and wildlife sectors (be it tour company, campsite operator, lodge owner or transporter) has played a significant role in the development of the two sectors and they most certainly deserve a pat on the back, but the three companies were specially singled out for the awards because they had greatly excelled in their individual business categories.
The objectives for the awards were:
- To appreciate the contribution of the private sector partners to tourism development and wildlife conservation. This contribution is through marketing and promotion, service provision, revenue generation among others;
ii. To motivate and encourage for continued involvement in tourism development and wildlife conservation;
iii. To raise the morale of the existing and potential investors and partners in tourism business and conservation.
The Minister of Tourism Trade and Industry, Hon Janat Mukwaya presented the awards, and commended UWA for this initiative, which she said would ensure higher standards among the tourism sector players.
More about the awards, the recipient companies and the selection criteria
Criteria for selecting winning companies
Selection of the companies for the appreciation awards was done by UWA in consultation with Tourism Uganda. The selection was based on:
- The nature of feedback from clients;
ii. Customer satisfaction through surveys;
iii. Duration in the business by a company;
iv. Quality services & professionalism exhibited;
v. Contribution & linkages to surrounding local communities;
vi. Environmental considerations & impacts; and
vii. Partner relations.
- Silverback Award to Classic Africa Safaris
This was an Award mainly for marketing mountain gorilla tourism and sustained contribution to their conservation. Specifically, the criterion was based on:
- Sustained high permit sales and consistency over the years;
ii. Perseverance even in turbulent times;
iii. Minimal cancellations and reschedules;
iv. Adherence to booking guidelines;
v. Positive feedback from Safari reports;
vi. Professional guiding;
vii. Good partner and client relations;
viii. Duration in the business.
In addition to good performance in the above areas, the founder of the company has been involved in Marketing Gorilla Tourism for over 10 years, with consistent high permit sales. The founder persevered in the business even during the hard time of the Bwindi Massacre and the harsh travel advisories. The company has also served as a leader in the tourism business bringing wide experience, skills and professionalism that has immensely contributed to development of the industry in Uganda.
- Jumbo Hospitality Award to Geo Lodges Ltd.
The Award was mainly for quality service provision .The following specific criteria for selecting a winner of this category was adopted:
- Quality of the facilities;
ii. Adherence to good environmental standards;
iii. Meeting customer preferences and needs for being close to nature;
iv. Exemplary customer service and standards;
v. Direct linkage with the local communities;
vi. Eco-friendly facilities;
vii. Value for money;
viii. Duration in the business;
ix. Good partner relations.
With over 13 years in business, Geo Lodges is among the pioneers of the present safari industry in Uganda, GeoLodges Ltd (formerly Inns of Uganda) operates two exclusive lodges fashioned within Uganda’s unspoiled wilderness in Murchison Falls National Park (Nile Safari Lodge is located on the banks of the Nile River in the newly formed Bullisa District ) and Queen Elizabeth National Park (Jacana Safari Lodge is located in Maramagambo Forest in Bushenyi District).
- Chimpanzee Award to Great Lakes Safaris
This was an Award mainly for local initiative and investment in eco-tourism. Specifically, the criterion was based on:
- Local entrepreneurship;
ii. Timely completion of agreed developments;
iii. Meeting ecotourism standards;
iv. Quality of the facilities;
v. Community empowerment through employment and skills transfer;
vi. Good partner relations;
vii. Adherence to good environmental standards;
viii. Positive feedback from visitors and stakeholders.
As a local company founded in 2001 by a team of young professionals, the company has been committed and has rapidly grown into a promising travel agent with a lot of potential. The company has hosted a number of tourists in the country and stands to be enumerated as good example for local tourist service providers that can compete favorably at international market.