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Coronavirus devastating Uganda's hotels, tourism

By Violet Nabatanzi

Added 17th March 2020 09:44 AM

Many hotels are counting losses following cancellation of bookings and reduced business activities in the hospitality industry.

Coronavirus devastating Uganda's hotels, tourism

Amos Masaba Wekesa, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Great Lakes Safari and Uganda Lodges uses hand sanitizer on arrival at Serena Kampala Hotel. (Photos by Ramadhan Abbey)

Many hotels are counting losses following cancellation of bookings and reduced business activities in the hospitality industry.

HEALTH      TOURISM 

The Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the World has already had adverse effects on Uganda's hotel, tourism and aviation industries as well as other businesses.

Many hotels are counting losses following cancellation of bookings and reduced business activities in the hospitality industry.

The chairperson of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Susan Muhwezi , said the association wants the Government to come to their rescue. The association has set up a team to engage Government.

The general manager at Kampala Serena Hotel, Anthony Cheng, said they have lost a lot of money in bookings that have been cancelled because of Coronavirus.

"Coronavirus has been a disaster. We had quite a number of International Conferences like G77 summit and World Health Forum but they have been cancelled. We are struggling. We can't have guests from Europe and most of their businesses here have been cancelled or postponed to a later date. January and February were beautiful months for us but in March we got the hit,'' Cheng said

He said the hotel has now slashed prices for Ugandans in the wake of the falling business activity.

  he number of guests at prominent hotels has gone down The number of guests at prominent hotels has gone down

 

Before the outbreak of the disease, Serena, according to Cheng, enjoyed a 70% occupancy rate, but that has fallen drastically.

The general manager at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Jean-Philippe Bettencourt, said they have registered a drastic reduction in business. Their current occupancy rate ranges between 24% and 25%.

"Our estimated amount of loss in terms of revenues for the period of March and April in terms of cancellation is about $700,000. This is something we have never faced before. But we have to build the future and hope the crisis will not last too long,'' he added

Bettencourt said they have shut down some of the floors to reduce power costs.

The general manager at Hotel Africana, Haruna Kibirige, said their occupancy rate has gone down from 75% to 25%. He added that the company is considering halving the workforce to further reduce the costs.

The Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes Safaris, Amos Wekesa, said most reservations in lodges are being cancelled with clients demanding refunds. "Right now 9 out of 10 Emails coming in are cancellations,'' Wekesa added

The chairperson of Uganda Tourism Board and former minister, Daudi Migereko, said they intend to engage the finance ministry to devise ways of rescuing the tourism industry and related sectors.

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