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Befriend A Gorilla

Virtual gorilla tracking moves into take-off phase

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Ambassador  Sep 18, 2009

A press briefing by the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Hon. Serapio Rukundo at the Uganda Media Center, took place earlier in the week in Kampala. The minister pointed out to the dozens of journalists and media representatives present that the old style marketing of Uganda as a tourism destination would now be progressively succeeded by a web based e-media and e-marketing approach and that printed brochures would play less and less of a role while Internet-based activities would come to the forefront of activities in the global market place.

The press briefing formally launched the “befriend a gorilla” virtual tracking of the gentle giants of the Virunga mountains, which will permit web users from around the world to access live pictures of the Ugandan gorillas for a nominal fee of US$1. A visit to requires having a Facebook account.

According to UWA sources, the entire amount generated by such virtual visits will be received by UWA, and in turn, the entire logistics and collection expenses will be borne by UWA. Revenues are expected to reach multi-million, US dollar figures over the coming years and are due to be invested in a special perpetual trust fund from the proceeds of which UWA will be able to finance further conservation measures in the future. It was also confirmed at the press briefing that gorilla tourism generated in excess of US$200 million last year for the Ugandan economy, while over US$600 million in overall income from tourism was recorded for the country.

Virtual tracking, the minister said, was a novel way to showcase one of Uganda’s biggest tourism attractions and is making it possible for everyone to have a peek at the prized animals, even if not able to afford a direct holiday to the country, or simply to follow the daily progress of the gorillas and staying in touch after seeing them for real.

It is understood, that virtual game viewing may expand to other national parks, reserves, and forests to enlarge the viewer base and attract more virtual safari tourists to the Ugandan web cam destinations.

The minister also assured the public that the government was making extra efforts to create an infrastructure linking the country’s main tourism sites with the capital and other urban centers to permit easy access to tourism hot spots.

Virtual gorilla tracking moves into take-off phase
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