By Edwin Muhumuza
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has embarked on a campaign to educate hotel owners on upholding services that are world class.
This is in a bid to boost the country’s competitiveness ahead of the reopening of the world for a post covid19 era.
According to Bradford Ochieng , the Deputy Chief Executive, UTB Ugandan hotels performed poorly in the last three global assessments on account of the lack of awareness on the importance of standards excellence.
However, prior to the resumption of the classification exercise, the world came to a standstill in 2020.
‘The last time the exercise was carried out was in 2017 and the next time should have been 2019 right at a time when the board was undergoing some restructuring.
However when they were due for the exercise in 2020, Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic and so it disrupted all such arrangements and was pushed to this year.’ Ochieng said.
Uganda as part of the East African Community partnership hopes to capitalise on the exercise as one way of harmonising standards within the region in comparison with other partner states.
The exercise is deemed important for international and local travellers, hotels owners and managers, and the entire industry collectively.
‘Coming from Covid19, it also offers an opportunity for owners and operators to rebrand in the tourism market as a sign of bouncing back to duty and a way to market destination Uganda and we are confident in our services.’ Ochieng noted.
In addition to the disruption concerns, Richard Kaweere, the Uganda Tourism Association Chief executive said that a gap of 2017 and 2021 Covid-19 inclusive was a huge one to be able to follow up on standards.
It also emerged that by 2017 there were over 6000 properties and that on average a team of assessors could spend two days on one facility owing to the fact that there are 14 assessors in the entire country.
UTB, Vice chairperson, Susan Muhwezi at the training said that they were in the process of training more assessors.
‘We have discussed the budget and by the end of two or three years we shall have enough assessors for all facilities in the entire country. What is also true is that this exercise takes time and we do it by region so it is important not to rush it. We want to ensure it is continuous.’
The proprietor of Eureka Hotel, Mark Kirya, one of the participants hailed the UTB training in saying that it would make Ugandan Hotels more competitive. ‘
In 2015, while still operating at half capacity, we were graded at 2- star and are hoping to move to 3- star level, Kirya said.