The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) is a highly recognized tourism trade association in the Uganda Tourism Industry. Its solely aimed at representing the needs and interests of member tour companies. AUTO Members are referred to as professional tour operators which i partly do not agree to.
Much as its members are ethical and probably bind to the rules set by the organization, i know some AUTO Members that have way less experience compared to non-members.
AUTO Members are regulated often. In case an operator engages in issues such as fraud, they are blacklisted from the list immediately and left with no chance of reconsideration. This way, the organisation are able to maintain a genuine list of operators.
This Uganda tour and travel operator organisation is represented by people from the member tour companies. These top officials are elected basing on votes and allowed in office for 2 years. When their reign elapses, new members are elected and so goes on.
The organisation is based at Capital Shoppers Building at Nakawa. It was formed in 1995 and currently has over two hundred and seventy members. You can see the current list here: http://auto.or.ug/members
What Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) Promises
AUTO aims at upholding a good and sound reputation of the Uganda Tourism Industry through ensuring tour companies maintain a sound standard of service and value.
AUTO gives travel agents and private tourists the confidence they need whilst booking their safari in Uganda. Among these include financial protection and redress to any issues you might have suffered whilst on your trip.
AUTO recommends certain procedures that the Ministry of Tourism uses to determine whether to issue, terminate or renew a license of a tour operator.
AUTO provides a means for member companies to seek protection or solve any disputes that may arise during business with member companies or non-Auto member companies.
Okay one thing i really like is their PR Service. AUTO Members receive regular updates straight to their emails. These include permits availability, scheduled tourism related events, marketing expos and many more. Its easy to keep updated with the tourism industry if you are a member.
Why book with Members of AUTO?
Booking with AUTO members guarantees you financial protection and quality service. In case of any dispute, you are open to send in your complaints to the organisation. This way, the AUTO Member you booked with will be questioned and judges. if found guilty, they are likely to lose their membership to the organisation or worse have their tourism licence revoked. No member would wish for this hence, strive so hard to ensure all goes well with their services.
Please note that you only have this chance if you have booked with an AUTO Member. If you book with non AUTO Members, you have no right to complain to the organisation.
What if your preferred operator is not a member?
There are scenarios where a non AUTO member offers you the best quote and you feel like proceeding with it.
So what if your operator is not a member? You shouldn’t freak out. There are Non AUTO members out there who are likely to perform better than members. You just have to be sure that the company is genuine and operational. Now this is where you have to befriend TripAdvisor. If the company has good reviews, you can go ahead and confirm your safari with them.
To wrap this up, booking your Uganda safaris with AUTO Members is fine just like booking it with genuine Non Auto Members. when you inquire and receive a package, you will be able to cite out the operators with the most experience and knowledge.
I always advise tourists to first do research online and challenge operators. This however, shouldn’t rule out the fact that you shouldn’t consider what your Uganda tour operator proposes to you. Fact is they know much than you do and you should respect their opinions unless you are sure your information is correct.
I also advise clients who want to carry out Uganda gorilla trekking safaris to book their safaris with gorilla trekking companies than normal tour operators. A gorilla trekking company specializes more in organizing gorilla safaris and have much experience compared to an operator who offers all kinds of safaris.