The Uganda Tourism Board has said the ongoing classification and rating of all hotels in the country will be key in kick-starting tourism recovery after being hit hard by the pandemic.
“The occupancy rate between January and March last year compared to the same period this year has gone up from 5.6% to 28.1% and we expect it to grow as the year progresses with the continued reopening of the economy. Hotels must therefore be ready to satisfy the market as business is beginning to pick up in the hospitality industry, “Susan Muhwezi, the UTB Board Vice-Chairperson, also Chairperson of Uganda Hotels Owners Association .
She was speaking during the beginning of the classification and regarding exercise for facilities in Kampala on Thursday.
The East African Community, standards criteria for the classification of hotels, restaurants, and other tourist facilities were gazetted in 2009 to encourage and maintain quality standards in products and services being delivered to tourists in East Africa.
According to the Uganda Tourism Act 2008, accommodation facilities are classified as lodges, motels, restaurants, guest houses, tented camps, town hotels, vacation hotels, villas, cottages and serviced apartments.
Factors like location, size of rooms, restaurants, interior décor, guest rooms, bathrooms, suites, hygiene, safety, security and human resource are also considered while classifying facilities according to stars.
The classification and rating exercise was last done in 2017.
However, according to Suzan Muhwezi, the exercise will help them find out the compliance levels to the set standards by the facilities.
“We have to be competitive since we have been hit hardest by the pandemic. From the previous exercise, we had six 5star hotels in Uganda. The current exercise will therefore help us know if the umber has increased or has gone down,” she said.
According to the UTB Deputy CEO Bradford Ochieng, the exercise will help encourage competitiveness among the Ugandan facilities.
“As a country, we need to define ourselves and ensure we are competitive. This can only be done through this exercise,” Ochieng said.
“The assessment will help us be competitive so that when you stay anywhere in the country, you get same standard of services provided. It is also important that once you stay in a two star hotel in Kenya, they are the same standards and quality you find at a two star hotel in any part of Uganda. There should be value for money for the services our visitors pay for.”
However, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association chairperson, Susan Muhwezi urged that the process should be fair, transparent, honest and accurate to avoid complaints and rejection of grades by hotels.
What they say
“The grading of hotels is a marketing tool for this country and our services. If services and standards are poor, tourists will not stay here but when they are good, tourists will come here and in big numbers,” Mark Kirya, the General Manager Eureka hotel in Ntinda.
“This exercise is very important to give label and certification on global sphere our industry. It makes us always improve on where we are lacking and also keep good ratings for our hotel. It will increase the value of the hospitality industry in Uganda,” Jean-Philippe Bittencourt, the General Manager, Sheraton Hotel.
“A lot has happened since 2017 when exercise was last done. This is important for is to review what we set as standard then and what we are doing now. It is also good for us to position ourselves to ensure our products meet international standards and expectations,” Greg Petzer, the General Manger Speke Resort Munyonyo and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Hotel.