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Hospitality industry struggles to meet world standards

2016/1/12      view:

By Edward kayiwa

Uganda’s hospitality industry continues to struggle to comply with world class standards as more than 70 % of hotels and sleeping places in Kampala do not conform to the basic requirements for classification.

This means the country loses the bulk of tourists intending to visit over long periods of time to neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), only 26 out of the 78 hotels and sleeping places that were assessed in Kampala in July conform to the basic standards required for classification.

However, Data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicates there are more than 6,400 hotels and sleeping places in Kampala, 3,000 of which are mapped on GPS.

“Unfortunately, most did not take part in the grading process because they don’t meet the basic requirements,” said the UTB deputy executive director, John Sempebwa.

Currently, only 400 hotels and sleeping places across the country are registered under the Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association(UHOA), the bulk of which have neither classification, nor  means to attract tourists.

“It is very difficult to track those hotels and sleeping places operating independent of the association. As such, we cannot extend services such as training and sensitisation to build their capacity for classification,” said the UHOA executive director, Jeanne Byamugisha.

The classification system brings out different aspects of service delivery essential for customer satisfaction, and covers physical and tangible characteristics of accommodation establishments such as location, rooms, style, elegance, comfort, finish and luxury.

With the increasing number of both local and foreign tourists, the situation for capacity and standards requires immediate attention.

According to Sempebwa, it’s only the 26 classified hotels and sleeping places that were accredited to host visitors and tourists  during the pope’s visit in November.

“in any case, we are also monitoring improvements made in some sleeping places for further accreditation,” Sempebwa said.

estimates  at the Uganda tourism board  indicate the arrival numbers will swell  during the festive season, through to late  January 2016.

“Our problem is one, the hotels and services offered to the tourists. The only thing tourists often remember is the country’s beauty and not the services offered, because most are very bad,” he noted.

The tourism sector’s total contribution to the economy in 2015 is estimated at $2.6b (sh 9.074 trillion) representing 8.2% of GDP.