- Uganda's hospitality is a bit lacking in human resource.
- UTB is making effort to standardize service.
- Private sector is responding positively to the call.
- Minimum requirements should be met by 2023.
Uganda Tourism Board has urged all stakeholders in the hospitality industry to comply with the set standards for the sector by 1st January 2023. Quality Assurance Manager, Uganda Tourism Board Ssemakula Samora Machel, says, “Uganda’s hospitality hardware which is physical structures is competitive but the same cannot be said for the software which is majorly the human resource.”
Uganda Tourism Board has observed that there is a big gap in the hospitality sector especially the human resource, private sector investors are more vested in having very nice-looking facilities but look for quick fixes when it comes to human resources.
There is a big gap we are dealing with in terms of human resource and some of the measures we are taking as an entity is engaging with the investors directly.Lily Ajarova ,UTB CEO
The Uganda Hotel and Tourism training institute in Jinja is a probable solution to this problem. The school has been put up as an investment to solve this looming time bomb in the hospitality and tourism industry in Uganda. “Most of the investors in the hotel and tourism business are usually not hoteliers and may not fully appreciate the functions of well-trained personnel. So we are now encouraging them to send their managers and prime workers to this institute to learn so they can train the rest of their teams,” adds Ajarova.
Successful hotel businesses around the world have a balance of both good facilities and excellent manpower. As part of Quality assurance, Ssemakula said that they are looking for a bare minimum at all levels of hotels and accommodations. If one markets itself as a five-star facility, it should be able to obtain the bare minimum requirements and that should be the same at all levels.
It is very understandable that most of these facilities are recovering from the intense effects of the COVID-19 lockdown and they need time to recuperate. Which explains why enforcement will start after 1st January 2023.
With six months remaining to the deadline, Samora says that he is receiving positive feedback, as many facilities are now doing their best to achieve the bare minimum standards at their different levels. We continue to encourage those who have not embraced this yet to try and meet the required standards.
"When we speak of standardisation of the hospitality industry we are also looking at tour operators and guides. These are supposed to meet certain requirements and should be fully informed in their different areas of operation. These people will also be required to attain certain levels of training before they are certified by UTB." says Ssemakula.
What Uganda Tourism Board requires from Facility owners includes but is not limited to;
- Meeting Saturatory obligations which are the legal requirements relevant to the sector that guide the safety, security and environmental considerations that are instrumental for sustainable development of the tourism sector.
- The facilities are required to obtain evidence of legal compliance which entails, a valid environmental impact assessment licence, valid permits from local authorities, valid tourism operating licence, valid occupational permit, valid health clearance certificate, valid medical examination for food handlers, valid food hygiene licence, valid work permits for expatriates and valid liquor licences where applicable.
- Facilities are also required to have proper waste collection and disposal systems, proper water and sewerage management, and pest control.
- Facility owners are required to factor in some key elements in building facilities like location which involve being in a safe and secure area with accessible and visible signage, being in harmony with nature or existing buildings, the designs and layout of the facility should incorporate environmentally friendly features, should have separate entrances and exits for staff and clients, provide adequate parking, provide designated parking for people with disabilities, also the facility premises should be accessible to people with disabilities.
- Facility owners should ensure proper lighting and ventilation, owners are required to build designs that allow for enough natural lighting and aeration.
- The buildings are also required to have fire assembly points, valid comprehensive insurance, perimeter walls, general security for the building, staff and guest property, an industrial first aid kit, and appropriate records for pool water treatment will be required for those with swimming pools.
- The Quality assurance team is looking out for operational requirements that include, guest reception and services, reservations, pricing and billing, kitchen size and arrangement, food preparation areas, food quality, work surfaces and kitchen equipment, food and beverage delivery and storage, temperature control ranges, restaurant and beverage service, restaurant tables and chairs, menu presentation and pricing, guestrooms, guest bedrooms and provisions, guest bathrooms, management and operations staff.
- Facilities are also required to adhere to the General Service requirements which include provision for people with disabilities, hygiene and sanitation, and cleanliness and maintenance.
Ssemakula explains that UTB is making an effort to educate and sensitize the private sector and if by the stipulated time one falls below standards, they will face the strong arm of the law.