Police spokesman Patric Onyango told AFP that the tourism police is important because it will counter threats of terrorists who might want to target tourists when they are in the country.
Tourism is Uganda’s second largest foreign exchange earner, estimated to be worth $662 million a year (480 million euros), according to official statistics.
Uganda this week issued renewed warnings that Shebab extremists were plotting to use fuel tankers as bombs “to cause extensive damage to people and property”.
Shebab bombers killed at least 76 people in restaurants in the capital Kampala in 2010, in retaliation after Uganda contributed troops to the African Union force fighting the Islamists in Somalia.
“The tourism police is almost a stand alone force, but under the remit of counter-terrorism” unit, Onyango said.
“The force has been deployed in areas visited by tourists like the national parks, tourism sites and major hotels.”
There was an attack in 1999 by Rwandan Hutu rebels on Uganda’s Bwindi forest, a popular tourist destination in Uganda,where tourists flock to track the endangered gorillas. This attack hit the country’s tourism sector hard. Eight foreign tourists and four Ugandans were killed in that attack. The country is definitely trying to prevent another attack like that one.
Over 300 new officers for the force will graduate later Friday, although Onyango said he could not give the total size of the team for security reasons.
Uganda’s Minister for Tourism Maria Mutagamba said the force was to “guarantee safety for tourists” by boosting security as part of “expanded anti-terror surveillance in Uganda.”
Uganda is a tourist destination for many and saftey for tourists is paramount, since tourism is such a big contributer to its revenue.
Uganda also known as the Pearl of Africa boasts of quite a number of tourist attraction such as the Source of The River Nile which is believed to be the longest river in the world and whose geographical and historical importance, and the white water rafting rides make it a major attraction in Uganda. Lake Victoria which is the third largest lake in the world, Bwindi Impenetrable forest-famous for gorilla trekking, Queen Elizabeth National park which enjoys a stunning locationon the rift valley floor between two lakes;Lake George and Lake Edward, Murchison falls national Park which has the dramativ murchison falls as its centerpiece -one of the most powerful falls in Africa, the volcanic Mount Elgon on the Uganda -kenya border and many others.
These beautiful and stunning attractions are tourist and adventure destinations for both locals and foreigners. There are usually small tourist villages which have cropped up close to almost every tourist destination. These tourist villages are full of small markets and exhibitions of African crafts such as bags, jewellery, clothing and paintings. There are also cultural exhibitions in form of dance and music. All of this put together gives visitors the ultimate African experience and is well worth protecting.