By Edwin Muhumuza
“Uganda is really a safe destination because out of all the numbers tested, none has died and nearly almost all of them have been discharged.”
These were the remarks of Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Godfrey Kiwanda, while kicking off the inspection of hotels to ensure compliance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by his ministry.
The SOPs are meant to revive confidence in Uganda’s tourism that has badly been hit by the Corona Virus following the cancellation of flights and the shutdown of nations of the world.
“The hospitality business is ready for Ugandans as of now because we have not yet opened for the region, the continent and the rest of the world but Ugandans first of all should come and enjoy their hotels because they have been home long enough.” Kiwanda rallied.
Susan Muhwezi , the chairperson of the board is optimistic that this drive will kick start a sector that has been under lock down as well.
“Gyms, saunas, and the airport remain closed though but there is a move to ensure that there will be a stimulus package for the sector. ” Muhwezi said.
“Tourism cuts across the entire value chain, be it agriculture, industry and so as government focuses on reviving agriculture and industry, it should always bear in mind that we are the ones that buy those things ,among the largest employers, so we are the people that use ICT.’’ she added.
Most Hotels are still closed and those still open are experiencing lack of occupancy and the concern raised by some of them has been the cost of implementing the SOPs.
As The inspection exercise traverses the whole country, starting with Kampala City and Entebbe town this week, hotels are being urged to be prepared and not be found wanting.
UTB Deputy CEO, Bradford Ochieng, noted that the Board would continue to ensure quality assurance across all tourism facilities and ensuring implementation of the SOPs as a key strategy in the revitalization of the sector and ensuring safety and confidence of the visitors which has become a key decision making factor in travel, going forward.
Prior to the Pandemic, tourism was Uganda’s largest contributor to revenue but when the world shut down, including Uganda, the effect could clearly be seen and felt.
However with most parts of the world opening up, the tourism sector which was number one tourism earner will thrive again and once SOPs are followed Uganda will be promoted and tourists will flood the country as they have always done.