By Titus Kakembo
Hotels in Uganda have been challenged to utilize their existing 14,000 rooms by offering discounts during low season if they are to reap maximum benefits from their investment.
The advise was given by Suzan Muhwezi, the new Uganda Hotels Owner’s Association (UHOA) president at at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. Muhwezi takes over from Bulayimu Kagimu who owns Hotel Africana.
“We need to work with other players in the industry,” stressed Muwhezi.
“Networking between tour operators, tour guides, the business fraternity, transporters and religious leaders is needed if we are to maximize our hotel rooms occupancy," she added.
Muhwezi mooted for the introducuction of corporate holiday packages to stop rich Ugandans from going to Seychelles Islands, South Africa and Mombasa.
She asked investors to market what they have if the culture of tourism is to be adopted in the country.
Muhwezi urged hotel owners to embrace the ongoing hotel grading exercise.
The outgoing UHOA president Kagimu revealed his plans to invest $1.5m in a new branch, Africana Safari Hotel, in Murchison Falls National Park.
“We have acquired 16 acres of land there. Another is due in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Tourism is the way forward.
And our challenge is to interest domestic travelers.”
Talking about his achievements while in office, Kagimu was applauded for campaigning for tax exemption from building materials, utilities and vehicles for the industry.
The membership has also gown from six to more than 350.
With a single EAC tourist visa, oil and gas discoveries, demand for hotel services is destined to shoot sky high.
The exercise has already begun in Entebbe and Kampala before spreading upcountry in the near future.
After hosting Chogm in 2007, Kampala city has inevitably become the great lakes workshop destination with international repute.
The onus is upon hotel owners to provide services required by their clients.