KAMPALA — Tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has until further closed down his hotel empire including Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort as the sector is suffers massive financial collapse in the wake of COVID-19.
The temporary closure takes effect from Friday, March 27, 2020 till “coronavirus issues is sorted out,”
Both hotels scooped international accolades at 2019 World Luxury Hotels Awards for their world class facilities and service excellence provided.
But with COVID-19 outbreak, Sudhir told the CEO EastAfrica Magazine that two other hotels, Dolphin Suites in Bugolobi and Forest Cottages in Naguru, would also be closed.
“It is really bad. We have decided to close Speke Resort and the Commonwealth Resort. We will reopen once Coronavirus issues sorted out,” he said adding: “For the others like Kabira Country Club, only a small section will remain open,” he was quoted by CEO Magazine as saying.
Sudhir, whose Ruparelia Group owns a string of hotels and country clubs and more than 200 commercial properties in the country has already sent home 1,000 workers and 2,000 will follow over the next few days.
The group employs over 8000 workers.
Patrick Bitature the proprietor of Protea Hotel by Marriott Kampala and Protea Hotel by Marriott Kampala Skyz- also local media that he is considering scaling down operations.
“We are trying to keep the hotels open but it’s hard to justify since the bookings have dropped substantially – as expected once they borders and airports were closed. We shall keep a skeleton staff and security,” he said.
Calls by the tourism industry for a stimulus package from government to shield the industry from heavy operating costs and expensive loans amidst canceled bookings and empty rooms are yet to be responded to by the government.
The tourism industry is Uganda’s largest forex earner.
At USD1.6 billion, tourism earnings in FY18/19 were bigger than the export earnings of Uganda’s leading 17 agriculture exports combined!
The sector at the end of 2018, employed 667,600 people which constituted 6.7% of all total employment. Worth noting is that the hospitality sector contributes up to 90% of all the jobs in the tourism industry with 58% of all jobs going to women and 77% of jobs to the youth- (18-30 years).