Didan Atukunda, the Mamba Gorilla Safari boss was over the weekend arrested for declining to pay back an erroneous payment made by a tourist.
Atukunda was arrested in Kabale by the Tourism Police Regional commandant- Kigezi region, Tinka Emmanuel.
According to Uganda Tourism Board publicist Sandra Natukunda, the tourist erroneously paid $30.000 (Shs110,114,016) instead of $3000 (Shs11,010,685) for a trip to trek Gorillas and Atukunda declined to make the $27,000 (Shs99,091,510) refund; forcing the tourist to contact UTB.
Prior attempts by UTB to discuss and agree to a payment plan between Atukunda and the tourist proved futile leading to the involvement of Tourism Police in a crackdown for Atukunda’s arrest.
He is currently detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.
UTB quality assurance manager Samora Semakula said the board has set up a Tourism security committee consisting of Tourism Police, MTWA and representation from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators with the aim of tactfully handling fraud and any cases reported by tourists.
“Tourism is Uganda’s number one foreign exchange earner. We cannot continue to let rogue operators destabilise the growth that we are seeing in the sector. Most importantly we want tourists to enjoy their stay in Uganda. Our role is to ensure quality standards are met in the sector,” Semakula said.
Atukunda’s arrest brings the number of rogue tour operators so far arrested this year to two. In a separate operation, Tourism Police and UTB cracked down and arrested Mugerwa Ahebwa who defrauded American tourists of over $18,000. He is currently detained at Jinja Road police station awaiting hearing.
“We shall continue to crackdown rogue operators,” Semakula reinforces
The tourism industry currently contributes 10 per cent to gross domestic product, making it Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner. The industry contributes more than $1.4b (Shs5.1 trillion) annually and is projected to earn about Shs10 trillion ($2.7b) by 2020.