KAMPALA – Uganda Tourism Board is set to conduct a grading and classification exercise for all tourism facilities in the Country in line with new East African Community (EAC) standards.
The exercise has kicked off with a two-day refresher course for the 12 EAC-certified hotel assessors at Protea Hotel, Entebbe. The refresher course is to improve their skills ahead of the sensitive exercise that starts in May 2021. Between now and then, UTB will embark on a massive stakeholder sensitization exercise.
Addressing the assessors and media at Protea Hotel, Mrs. Susan Muhwezi, the UTB Board Vice-Chair and Chairperson of Uganda Hotels Owners Association (UHOA), commended UTB for working with the private sector members, such as UHOA in the grading and classification exercise, that she said, was very vital to the recovery of Uganda’s tourism sector.
“Most tourists especially foreigners value the stars of the hotel they are booking and they always look forward to experiencing the standards of the indicated star of a particular hotel,” she said, urging the assessors to be diligent in their work and to follow the set procedures and standards.
Mrs Muhwezi pledged her support during this exercise as both the UTB Board Vice-Chair and the Chairperson of the Uganda Hotels Owners Association.
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.The standards were institutionalized under the Tourism Regulations 2008.
The standards include:
- Classification Criteria for Lodges
- Classification criteria for Motels
- Classification Criteria for Restaurants
- Classification Criteria for Guesthouses
- Classification Criteria for Tented Camps
- Classification Criteria for Town hotels
- Classification Criteria for Vacation Hotels
- Classification Criteria for Villas, Cottages and serviced apartments
Since the release of the criteria, Uganda has been able to classify 121 accommodation facilities. The exercise was last conducted in 2017.
According to Ms. Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chief Executive Officer, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown measures, the next round of assessment which was scheduled to commence from the end of FY 2019/20 was postponed to FY2020/21.
“The star-rating we give during the grading and classification has a life span of 2 years meaning that all facilities that were graded can no longer identify themselves with the star rating they were awarded with because it expired, and this means that currently, Uganda does not have any graded facilities.Due to Covid-19, a number of facilities’ standards have gone down, so this exercise is important for safeguarding the standards in the sector and the competitiveness of Destination Uganda,” she said.
“UTB’S decision to conduct classification envisions transforming the tourism sector into “one of the top long-haul tourist destinations that offer a high-value, diverse and distinct visitor experience,” she added.
ABOUT UGANDA TOURISM BOARD (UTB)
Created by the Tourism Act (2008), Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is the official Government of Uganda’s destination marketing organization for Destination Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. UTB exists to sustainably promote Uganda as the most preferred and competitive destination for tourists and tourism investments in Africa. By working with stakeholders in the tourism sector to market Destination Uganda while encouraging investment, education, training and research as well as developing and monitoring standards in the tourism sector, UTB has since its inception, 13 years ago, grown the number of tourist arrivals by 78% from 844,000 in 2008/09 to 1,500,000 in 2018/19. This is slightly above global growth rates of 63% in the same period. As a result, sector foreign exchange earnings have nearly tripled, growing by more than 171%, from US$590 million to US$1.6 billion in the same period. Today the tourism industry, directly and indirectly, creates 667,600 jobs, 77% of whom are youth aged18-30 years and accounts for 7.7% of GDP.
By 2024/25 and barring for the effects of Covid-19, UTB plans to grow international tourist arrivals from the key source markets i.e., U.S., Europe and China from 210,000 to 500,000 tourists- a core element in increasing Uganda’s annual tourism revenues from US$1.6 billion to US$3.0 billion! This will increase the contribution of tourism to total employment from 6.3% to 10% which is equivalent to 433,000 new jobs or an increase from the current 667,600 jobs to 1,100,000 jobs. This will increase the total contribution of tourism to GDP from 7.7% to 9%.
“Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is located in East Africa and offers some of the continent’s most diverse wildlife viewing, dramatic landscapes, and immersive cultural experiences and warm people and hospitality. Uganda is home to more than half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas and trekking to observe these gentle giants in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is one of the world’s top bucket list travel activities. Safari opportunities abound in savanna, forest, and wetland settings throughout 10 national parks, where visitors can come face to face with “The Big Five + 2 ” – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, chimpanzee and mountain gorilla– as well as giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, crocodile, and more than half of all bird species found in Africa. Among Uganda’s extraordinary natural attractions are the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains; expansive Lake Victoria, which forms the source of the Nile River; and Murchison Falls National Park.