KAMPALA, Uganda – The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) does not have enough money to carry out the Hotel Classification Exercise UTB officials have told East African Business Week.
The exercise is supposed to be carried out by all five members of the East African Community to develop a uniform criteria throughout the region.
“We skilled the Hotel Assessors, on how to conduct the exercise acoording to the East African Community Hotel Standardization guidelines and also had meetings with the hotel owners about the advantage of government caring out hotel classification,” Innocent Asiimwe, the Quality Assurance Officer at UTB said.
“The majority embraced it, but as UTB we have not embarked on the classification work and grading because the government has not released money to the agency,” he added.
UTB is the government agency responsible for marketing of tourism. However, UTB cannot do this without a grading system. Asiimwe said UTB trained about 16 assessors compared to Kenya’s 26. However nothing has been achieved due to inadequate funding.
“Hotel classification is a good tool for marketing the country’s tourism sector in the region. The more Uganda delays to complete the exercise, the more the country will lose foreign exchange from tourism because tourists need information concerning the standard and grades of our hotels for their safety when they’re in the country,” he said.
He esitmated that UTB needs Ush600 million (about $240,000) to carry out the exercise.
Not long ago, UTB Executive Director Cuthbert Baguma told owners if their hotels are classified, this will help them to market their services and also attract more customers. He said 60% of traveler’s budget goes into meals and accommodation.
“When our hotels are standardized this will help both the government to promote tourism, but also the private sectors will also benefit because 60% of the tourism budget is spent on meals and accommodation which is provided through hotels. But for them to earn more from the sector hotel owners should offer quality services to the visitors,” Baguma said during the training for the hotel owners in Kampala in July.
The tourism sector is growing fast, with the country attracting an increasing number of foreign visitors.
Hospitality services like accommodation due to the growing number of tourist this has led the demand for more hotels in the country. Hotels have been constructed but many do not meet international standards. Since many are in the hands of the private sector the government felt the need to carry out hotel classification and standardization as way of creating harmony between the tourists and hotel owners.