Today, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) can be proud. Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lilly Ajarova and Quality Assurance Officer Samora Semakula applied on August 24 for the Safer Tourism Seal . In addition to the self-assessment, UTB included a request for an independent evaluation.

The Safer Tourism Seal is available for any destination and tourism stakeholder based on self-assessment. By the Uganda Tourism Board adding the important option and going a step further for an evaluation, shows an important commitment and a way to double check on policies in place.

Dr. Peter Tarlow is the head of Safer Tourism and also a member of the Project Hope team in regards to safety and security by the African Tourism Board . He worked with Uganda in 2019 when Uganda also did not hesitate to go out in full strength combating a health crisis.

The Uganda Tourism Board is one of the founding members of the African Tourism Board.

Cuthbert Ncube of the African Tourism Board said: “Indeed it is with great admiration as I congratulate Lilly and the Uganda Tourism Board in joining the Captains of the Tourism sector in adopting the – Safer Tourism Seal. As most Member States are slowly reopened their borders it is of paramount importance, that the precautionary measures have adhered.

Uganda is a strategic and key role player in the continent in driving the economic recovery in the Region, Rebuilding Travel will recognize, support, and work with countries who are playing a pivotal role in destination management post-COVID-19.

After one month of extensive brainstorming and going over important documents and interviews, the Uganda Tourism Board is now best prepared to fulfill all the elements needed to operate as safely as possible as a popular travel and tourism destination.

The independent evaluation goes beyond self-assessment in a big way. It gives the seal a lot more credibility. It also gives the Uganda Tourism Board a lot more credibility in not hesitating to go the additional step.

The evaluation is not a rubber stamp, but a process, and the Uganda Tourism Board today was approved and may now proudly show the blue seal of an evaluated Safer Tourism Seal holder.

Transcript of the approval letter to the Uganda Tourism Board

Dear Ms. Ajarova & Mr. Semakula:

It is with great delight and honor that we want to award the Uganda Tourism Board with Rebuilding Travel’s Safer Tourism’s Seal.

Based on the information that you have provided to the Safer Tourism organization regarding Uganda, I have prepared the following report for UTB.

Tourism is one of the world’s leading industries and a major economic development tool, and as such, security (crime and terrorism) has a major impact on the tourism, cruise, and event-oriented economies. Additionally, much of the entire world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects on tourism have been devastating

The Government of Uganda recognizes the importance of its tourism industries. Uganda is known around the world for its natural beauty, its variety of attractions, its historic villages, and its wildlife. The Uganda tourism industry not only is a major economic development tool but it also is a major component in Uganda’s quality of life.

Uganda can take great pride in that many of its public officials are tourism-sensitive. They understand the importance of tourism and how tourism impacts the nation’s reputation and standing not only in tourism but also in the world.

In today’s world dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, both local citizens and visitors throughout the world demand safety and security implemented by well-trained professionals. The traveling public understands the relationship between safety, security, reputation, economic viability, and health. These five factors when combined are called tourism surety. Each of these factors is essential in winning a Safer Tourism Seal and demonstrating that the awarded entity does everything possible to assure the highest level of tourism surety possible. The seal recognizes that there is no 100% safety and security in the world. It is for this reason that the seal uses the term “safer tourism.” It indicates that the entity awarded such a seal has established a dynamic tourism surety program that demands continual reviews, revisions, and upgrades. The Safer Tourism Seal acknowledges that the awarded entity fully understands that new measures must be introduced as the situation warrants.

It is for this reason, Rebuilding Tourism offers its Safer Tourism Seal only to tourism entities, businesses, and locales which recognize that the hospitality industry’s number one job is the protection of its guests and of those working in the industry. The seal’s motto is: “safety, security, and health first.”

The Uganda Ministry of Tourism in discussions with Rebuilding Tourism has demonstrated that it understands that tourism surety involves training, education, investments in software, and the understanding that security/surety is not a simplistic discipline. In an age of great change and challenges ranging from issues of health to security, the Uganda Ministry of Tourism has demonstrated that it accepts the fact that its tourism personnel will have continual training and must be flexible enough to adjust their procedure to a constantly-changing environment.

The Uganda Ministry of Tourism demonstrated its commitment to tourism well-being through two in-person telephone interviews and by satisfactorily answering in writing multiple in-depth questions concerning its health and safety procedures not only as they pertain to the current pandemic but also as they pertain to its overall tourism surety policy.

The Ministry indicated via both oral interviews and in writing that it has involved itself in creating a safer tourism product. It also demonstrated to the Safer Tourism researcher that Uganda is doing everything possible to create a safe, secure, and healthy environment by working with international agencies, by participating with regional agencies, and by interacting with tourism security and well-being specialists.

The Uganda Ministry of Tourism has indicated that it is taking proactive measures to assure visitors of the safest tourism experience possible. The Ministry well understands that no one can assure 100% safety and security and that no one shall fall ill. What it can do is provide the best tourism surety measures possible. For this reason, the government reports that:

  1. Uganda must continue to create and update its health and surety protocols on a timely and regional basis.
  2.  Uganda must put in place realistic health, sanitation, disinfection, distancing, and safety protocols that are both affordable and pro-active implemented by your government.
  3.  Uganda follows international social distancing guidelines both for staff and visitors and works to create touch-less solutions whenever possible. The nation is implementing touch-less policies wherever and whenever possible and uses technology to decrease physical interactions in hotels, restaurants, places of transportation, etc.
  4.  Uganda has developed an affordable and workable PPE policy.
  5. Uganda’s Tourism Ministry requires the wearing of masks when personal interactions occur when people are less than 2 meters from each other. The same rules apply to public transportation.
  6. Uganda requests the frequent washing of hands and the sanitization of hotel rooms and other public locations or apparatuses used by the public.

The country does everything possible to sanitize sleeping quarters for guests. It should be noted that Uganda gives special consideration to the application of cleaning and disinfection measures in common areas (restrooms, halls, corridors, lifts, etc.) as a general preventive measure during the entire COVID-19 pandemic.

Special attention is also given to objects that are frequently touched such as handles, elevator buttons, handrails, switches, doorknobs, etc. Cleaning staff members are instructed accordingly. The following are implemented for rooms or specific areas exposed to COVID-19 cases:

  1. a) Any surfaces that become soiled with respiratory secretions or other body fluids of the ill person(s), e.g. toilet, hand-washing basins, and baths should be cleaned with a regular household disinfectant.
  2. b) Color-coded cleaning materials for different areas to avoid contamination.
  3. c)  Service staff requires additional training in the preparation, handling, application, and storage of these products, mostly bleach, which may be at a higher concentration than usual.
  4. d) Whenever possible, the use of only disposable cleaning materials are encouraged. Any cleaning equipment made of cloths and absorbent materials, e.g. mop heads and wiping cloths, are discarded.
  5. e) All used items must be handled appropriately to mitigate the risk of potential transmission. Disposable items (hand towels, gloves, masks, tissues) should be placed in a container with a lid and disposed of according to the hotel action plan and national regulations for waste management disinfection.
  6. f)   Cleaning crews are trained on use of PPE and hand hygiene.
  7. g) All rooms and common areas should be ventilated daily.
  • As noted, the government works to provide hand-sanitizers in accordance to the needs of the public and tourism industry. Automated and manually-operated hand sanitizers have been positioned in all sensitive areas and on a continuous basis.
  • The government has implemented a training program for all tourism locales and businesses on how to utilize physical separation and at the same time is sensitive to the nation’s ecological and climactic needs.
  • Uganda pays special attention to transportation hubs such as airport terminals and insists on international transportation centers and businesses such as airlines to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s “Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis.”
  • Uganda’s first responders are trained on the usage of Personal Protective Equipment and the handling of cases in health crises. Special attention is paid to both the first responder’s safety and to that of its guests.
  • Uganda’s governing agencies well understand that as the situation unfolds or changes that its policies may also have to change so as to protect visitors to the fullest extent possible.
  • Uganda has special COVID-19-ready hospitals that are out of bounds to non-patients.
  • During the COVID-19 period, Uganda understands that it must also protect its visitors from other forms of tourism threats such as crime. Visitor protection and tourism crime prevention are and will always be at the forefront of its tourism policies.
  • Uganda updates its tourism policies and updates its tourism specialists on a daily basis.

Safer Tourism is, therefore, proud to award the Uganda Ministry of Tourism with its Safer Tourism Seal of Approval, based on evaluation and endorsement.

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow,

Chief of Validation for Safer Tourism

Signed on September 23, 2020