The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) at the 25th Annual General Meeting held at Hotel Africana in Kampala on December 9 elected Civy Tumusiime as its new Chair. The election was presided over by Stephen Masaba, Business Development Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority as returning officer; Bradford Ochieng, Deputy CEO of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB); Innocent Asiimwe, Quality Assurance Officer of UTB; and Ronnie Mulongo of the Private Sector Foundation.
It was down to youth verses seniors when the youthful Civy, who is Director at Acacia Safaris at Pakuba and Mpogo Lodges in Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo National Parks, respectively garnered a landslide of 162 votes followed by Swan Airs Eugine Nsubuga Wndt with 64, and 14 votes for Lake Kitandara Tours and Travels Bonifence Byamukama.
Other members on the new board include equally youthful Tony Mulinde, Vice Chair; Herbert Byaruhanga, General Secretary; Wilberforce Begumisa, Treasurer; and Marinka Sanc-George, Robert Mugabe, and Yvonne Hilgendorf completing the seven-member board for 2020 to 2022.
In her victory statement, Civy who campaigned on the slogan “Make AUTO Great Again” (MAGA) said to the AUTO Directors: “Thank you for your vote. Thank you for the confidence. Thank you for picking a brilliant team to see AUTO give value over the next two years. We are indebted to you, and we will give AUTO 110%. I am only a phone call away, a text, or even a visit away and always at your service. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He shine his face upon you all.”
Congratulatory messages streamed in from Doreen Katusiime, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA), who said: “On behalf of the technical team at MTWA, I congratulate Civy and the entire team of new leadership at AUTO. We look forward to working with you closely to build a vibrant association for the benefit of its members.”
The Chairman of the Uganda Tourism Board, Honorable Daudi Migereko, said: “Congratulations, Madam Civy and the entire executive [team], on being elected to provide leadership to the tour operators. We wish you a successful term of office and look forward to working with you.”
Richard Kawere, CEO of the Uganda Tourist Association (UTA), said: “Congratulations, Civy and team. The industry has a lot of expectations from your leadership, and I am certain you will deliver with Almighty as the guide on your leadership path.”
Perhaps the most pertinent message summarizing the mood was from Andrew Kijooma of Prepaid Services Ltd. who said of Civy’s victory: “You represent a generation that is in tandem with your ideas to move the sector forward. A big handshake to our seniors that participated in the election. Please keep them close, as old brooms know all the corners.”
The composition of the new board includes “old brooms” Marinka Sanc-George, a founder member of the association in 1995, and veteran birder, Herbert Byaruhanga.
The election was preceded by the Annual Report presented by outgoing Chairman Everest Kayondo and AUTO CEO Gloria Tumwesigye both of whom opted to step down from reelection and reappointment respectively.
This was followed by the External Auditors Report for the years 2018/19 as well as the Treasurer’s presentation of the Budget 2020/21 for ratification.
Kayondo outlined the achievements of the Association including:
– Increasing membership from 272 to 320
– Outstanding tax liability was resolved saving the association UGX 80 Million (us$22,000) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) refunded US$41,000 in tax claims
– AUTO managed to renew the existing MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with UWA for discounted gorilla permits
– AUTO partly sponsored Vakantiebieus Travel Expo in the Netherlands from proceeds generated from discounted gorilla permits
– Procurement of AUTO premises in Muyenga, Kampala, at UaGaX1.2 billion (US$326,000)
– Hiring a retainer lawyer and internal auditor resulting in output policy manuals including a procurement manual, accounting and finance manual, and a human resource manual
– Save Murchison Falls Campaign in light of the impending hydropower dam project at the Top of The Falls
– Destination market training
– Submission of tourism act amendments
– Negotiating with UWA to reschedule gorilla and chimpanzee permits that had been reserved prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
– Donation of relief to UWA rangers at the front line of protecting wildlife through trying times
– Participation in the revival of the East African Tourism Platform (EATP)
– Securing representation in the Private Sector Foundation, Uganda Wildlife Authority, and Uganda Tourism Boards
– Waiver of membership fees for 2020 in light of the pandemic