It was the year 2007 when Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and at the time, we had about 1,800 hotel rooms which shot to over 5,000 according to Ismael Ssekandi the Executive Director – Uganda Hotel Owners Association to accommodate the guests who were expected for the summit.
The biggest problem is the culture of Ugandans in relation to these services which is still lacking and as such there is need for government intervention or the hotels themselves having to think out of the box to attract the local market.
The number of Jinja residents who can opt to reside at Jinja Nile Resort for a weekend is certainly very low minus carrying out a survey and so is the number of Kampala Residents choosing to go and have a weekend at Munyonyo Resort.
Hotels had better come up with strategies of attracting locals to their entities by either giving them promotional packages or encouraging them to actually use the services. If in a given month we had 2,000 guests requiring these hotel rooms that would still leave over 3,000 rooms not utilized at all.
The credit crunch did not make it any better for this sector because the numbers of tourists or visitors that these hotels would be attracting has gone down drastically as a result of the economic melt down.
It is for this reason that hotels had better adopt a programme of attracting locals so that these services are not only used for once offs like Honey Moons, Christmas Holidays but the hotels can get some measurable traffic from the locals throughout the year.
The approach of attracting locals might not be an option for the big name hotels to consider but when it eventually works out they might have no option but to get on board.