By Edward kayiwa

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

This means that the country loses the bulk of tourists intending to visit for 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 which were assessed in Kampala in July conformed to the basic standards required for classification.

However, data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicated that there are more than 6,400 hotels and sleeping places in Kampala, with 3,000 of them 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 which 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 by the Uganda Tourism Board indicate the visitor arrival numbers will swell during the festive season, through to late January 2016.

“Our problem is 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,” Sempebwa noted.

The tourism sector’s total contribution to the economy in 2015 is estimated at 2.6 billion US dollars, representing 8.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).



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