Uganda’s Tourism Police has today arrested a rogue tour operator, accused of fleecing tourists of US$21,500. Richard Tusasibwe, director of Gatatu Safaris Limited in Kigezi, was today taken into custody after he was arrested by police at Arcadia Cottages in Kabale, near Lake Bunyonyi, where he had taken other tourists for a trip.
Police confirmed tourists were German nationals in their statement: “Gatatu received US$21,500 from Dr. Lentschig Markus Gunter, a German national, which was for payment of the entire safari for his family vacation in Uganda.”
According to Tourism Police Commander, CP Frank Mwesigwa, Tusasibwe was arrested after being identified by undercover teams at check-in. He is currently being held at Kabale Police station and charged with obtaining money by false pretense.
Tusasibwe is alleged to have been contracted by five American tourists to organize chimpanzee and gorilla tracking expedition in Uganda. After an airport pickup and arrival in Kisoro, Tusasibwe abandoned the tourists at a lodge and has been on the run for the past two weeks.
Uganda Tourism Board Quality Assurance Manager, Samora Semakula said that the board was working around the clock to ensure that quality standards and the law are upheld in the tourism sector and that rogue operators face the law.
“We are pleased that the police has arrested a rogue operator who has been on the run for the last two weeks since this case was brought to our attention. Rogue tour operators are a peril to the growth and development of the sector. Uganda Tourism Board will continue to work with the tourism police and other players in the sector to ensure that the vice is brought to a conclusive end,” Semakula said.
Mwesigwa reassures tourists saying, “As Tourism Police, we are committed to clean up quack tour operators who con our tourists. Uganda remains a peaceful and secure country and all efforts together with stakeholders are to ensure that law and order is upheld in the tourism sector and the country at large.”
Rouge tour operators are fast becoming extinct ever since Uganda Tourism Board constituted a Security Committee comprised of Tourism Police, Cyber Security and Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) early this year.
To this end UTB Publicist Sandra Natukunda ,while confirming the arrest, reaffirmed UTB’s ongoing exercise this evening stating: “As mandated by the Tourism Act (2008) Uganda Tourism Board earlier this year kicked off a registration and licensing exercise of all tour operators and facilities in the tourism value chain. This process is aimed to effectively regulate the tourism sector, promote quality assurance across the value chain and end the vice of fleecing tourists.”
Author: Tony Ofungi – eTN Uganda