UCOTA Participates in the Tourism Police Launch
On Tuesday 28 February, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, in conjunction with the Uganda Police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs launched Uganda’s Tourism Police Force. After four weeks of training, the force gathered at Constitution Square in Kampala, along with stakeholders representing Uganda’s tourism industry and marched in a parade to the Uganda Museum where celebrations took place.
The Uganda Police (including the counter-terrorism unit) and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage were responsible for the formation of this unit whose main aim is to handle tourist-related crimes. Representatives from both the public and private sector including the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Uganda Tourism Board, the Uganda Tourism Association, the Uganda Safari Guides Association, the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, and of course the Uganda Community Tourism Association were all in attendance.
The Tourism Police was formed to “Protect and Serve” and will serve the tourism sector in various ways, understanding that “people are having fun and shall have fun free from criminals,” said the Commandant of the Tourism Police, SSP. Okoshi Simon Peter. He continued to say that the main objective of the Force is “to be proactive, to preempt cases.”
Uganda’s tourism sector has received many accolades from the international community including being named the #1 destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet. It is therefore imperative that the security for tourists be at a maximum, as awareness about this East African nation gains recognition from abroad as a tourism destination. The tourism sector understands that tourism is a vulnerable industry, where negative events can cause long-lasting impact. The Tourism Police has thus been instituted as a preventive measure to whatever threatens the people and image of the country.
As Uganda prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence, it is also preparing to host the Inter-Parliamentary Union of over 120 countries, as well as the International Sports Conference, for which Uganda is expecting delegates from over 130 countries.
The Tourism Police Force, currently comprised of 120 able men and women, will serve both domestic and international tourists and will ensure that tourism sites around the country are safe and secure. The Tourism Police Force has also set up a telephone hotline: 0800-199-055 for tourists to call in case of emergency.