A high-level breakfast meeting was organized in Kampala at Protea Marriot Skyz Hotel. About Fifteen people including the Executive Director and Tourism Development Manager for Uganda Wildlife Authority, representatives from the Association of Tour operators and partner conservation and organizations attended the meeting. At the meeting IGCP shared about the entire Gorilla Friendly initiative and the different components – park audits, enterprise certification and the pledge. Several recommendations were made to UWA and the participating partners; joint review of the current park standards, conducting park audit, establishment of an independent email address linked to the Gorilla FriendlyTM Pledge website to receive tourist feedback, endorsing the pledge campaign, erecting signages about the pledge at briefing sites, adding a link of the Pledge website on UWA’s website, to mention but a few.
In his remarks, the IGCP Director re-assured UWA that the aim of the park audits is not to “witch hunt” the parks but rather to assess and appreciate the gaps that need to be addressed to ensure the continued safety and protection of mountain gorillas. He added that the term audit was going to be changed to assessment to address any misconceptions.
Speaking at the meeting, the UWA Executive Director commended IGCP for their great work in promoting sustainable conservation and responsible mountain gorilla tourism. He approved all the recommendations made to UWA including the park audits. “It doesn’t matter if we call them audits or assessment, what matters is the overall objective – to improve the management of our parks for the good of the mountain gorillas. Let us have them done,” Sam Mwandha said. An action plan was made that IGCP will use to follow up on the passed resolutions.