Uganda: Tour operator detained over defrauding tourists

By Job Namanya

chard Tusasibwe has been on the run for about three weeks since allegedly defrauding tourists of sh7.9m

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Richard Tusasibwe after his arrest by Tourism Police. Photo by Job Namanya

The Tourism Police in Kigezi region has arrested Richard Tusasibwe, the executive director of Gatatu Safaris Ltd a tour and travel company in the area for allegedly conning five tourists.

Tusasibwe who has been on the run for about three weeks since the tourists reported him to Police was on Monday morning netted from one of the hotels around Lake Bunyonyi.

According to Emmanuel Tinka, the Kigezi Regional Tourism Police commander, his office had received complaints from five tourists from the United States of America accusing Tusasibwe of allegedly signing a contract worth sh7.9m which he did not fully respect.

The agreement stipulated picking up the tourists from Entebbe International Airport and driving them to Kisoro town.

The contract also required Tusasibwe to book the tourists into a hotel and secure five chimpanzee and gorilla trekking permits after he was paid part of the money to help effect the bookings.

However, when the tourists reached Kisoro town, Tusasibwe abandoned them at Chameleon Hill Hotel, switched off his phones and disappeared.

Police has since then been hunting for him until they netted him on Monday. This is not the first time a tour operator is arrested over fraud from the region.

In February 2019, Didan Atukunda a tour operator from Mamba Gorilla Safari was arrested after he failed to refund sh99m that was mistakenly sent to his account by a Dutch tourist for a gorilla trekking trip.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni while on a tour to Kigezi to promote the Operation Wealth Creation initiative at the end of July, ordered for the arrest of tour operators in  the region who habitually con unsuspecting tourists and rob them of their money.

Museveni said that such tour operators whom he termed as โ€œfakeโ€ should be arrested because they are enemies of the country.

โ€œWe need such fake characters arrested. They are mishandling their duties and causing the country to lose lots of income from the tourists who may not feel at ease with their security in the countryโ€ Museveni remarked.

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