Kampala, Uganda

Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Gloria Tumwesigye, CEO

Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO)

KAMPALA (March 18, 2020) – In the wake of the declaration of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-COVID-19) as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the travel advisory from the Ugandan Government, AUTO has been in close communication with its Members (Tour Operators) to determine the reaction of guests and travel agents, and to recommend steps for them to take.

AUTO members are in contact with guests and travel agents (as pertinent) to discuss concerns and alternatives for travel booked. Many AUTO members have reported emails and calls from their clients requesting cancellations and postponement of trips and meetings to known or unknown dates in the future because of seasonality or timing of travel programs.

Our members are handling the issue based on the relaxed reschedule policy guidelines from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as well as the different individual companies’ procedures and policies that might largely include postponements or offering alternative travel options.

Every member of AUTO has emphasized the importance of prioritizing the health and wellbeing of its guests, staff and partners, and we would like to reiterate our commitment towards the same.

AUTO advises that consumers and travel agents contact their tour operator directly and in a timely fashion to discuss available options.

AUTO is working diligently to help get the much-needed assistance for our members, their clients and partners, while keeping you apprised of any in-the-moment news in this rapidly changing landscape. We are specifically lobbying for incentives for tourism businesses as a recovery plan for the tourism sector. We will continue to monitor the situation and be guided by the health and safety authorities.

Uganda remains free of the coronavirus and we stand with all our friends around the world with great hope that the situation will subside very soon.

Finally, we would like to encourage our tourism businesses to continue following the basic precautionary measures put in place by WHO and the Government of Uganda to minimize the infection and spread of the virus.

About AUTO:

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) is Uganda's leading tourism trade association, representing the interests of the country’s leading and experienced professional tour operators. AUTO has a membership of over 300 companies who offer a wide range of tour packages/services. As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 25 years, AUTO also provides assistance and education for consumers and travel agents.

Contact:

Jonathan A. Benaiah | PR & Membership Services Officer

+256 414 542 599; +256 702 542 599

admin@ugandatouroperators.org; automembers@gmail.com