The Uganda Ho­tel Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

Africa Outlook - - Business Travel -

THE UGANDA HO­TEL Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (UHOA) was founded by Dr. BM Kibirige in May, 2000 when he came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that ho­tel own­ers in Uganda needed to come to­gether and cre­ate an at­mos­phere con­ducive to busi­ness.

Un­til that point in time ho­tels had been largely ig­nored by the Govern­ment, de­spite the fact that they had al­ways been the big­gest in­vestors within the tourism sec­tor. 18 years later, UHOA now boasts more than

500 mem­ber ho­tels, is well recog­nised by the Govern­ment of Uganda and holds a seat on the Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Author­ity and Pri­vate sec­tor Foun­da­tion.

Jean Bya­mugisha, Ex­ec­u­tive

Di­rec­tor of the Uganda Ho­tel

Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion tells us about her vi­sion for the fu­ture, and the

As­so­ci­a­tion’s sup­port for the tourism in­dus­try as a whole. Africa Out­look (Afo): Since in­cep­tion, how has Uganda Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion de­vel­oped and pro­gressed in terms of its key ob­jec­tives and the mes­sages it tries to get across?

Jean Bya­mugisha (JB): Since May, 2000, UHOA has grown in leaps and bounds and ex­panded its vi­sion for the fu­ture. When UHOA was first created, it was purely limited to the needs of the ho­tel sec­tor. To­day UHOA is an ad­vo­cate for the Ugan­dan tourism in­dus­try be­cause we re­alise that for the ho­tels to grow, the en­tire tourism in­dus­try must grow as well. So to­day, much of our key ob­jec­tives and mes­sages are for the over­all de­vel­op­ment of the tourism sec­tor in Uganda with key em­pha­sis on the in­vest­ment and

growth of the ho­tel sec­tor. UHOA is also pas­sion­ate about the ca­pac­ity build­ing and gen­eral wel­fare of the ho­tel staff. As the big­gest em­ploy­ers in the tourism in­dus­try, we aim to cre­ate a prece­dent and lead by ex­am­ple in terms of staff wel­fare.

Afo: Tak­ing a more gen­eral in­dus­try stance, how would you eval­u­ate the tourism sec­tor in Uganda now com­pared to its con­di­tion when the As­so­ci­a­tion be­gan?

JB: The eas­i­est way I can ex­plain this is the com­par­i­son of night and day; 18 years ago, tourism was largely ig­nored both by the Govern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor. Not only did we re­ceive min­i­mum fund­ing from the Govern­ment, tourism was also housed un­der the Min­istry of Trade re­ceiv­ing a lot less at­ten­tion. To­day, Tourism has a stand­alone Min­istry, the Min­istry of

Tourism, Wildlife and An­tiq­ui­ties and re­ceives quite con­sid­er­able fund­ing to sup­port most of the mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for the sec­tor. Tourism is now the big­gest for­eign ex­change earner for Uganda as well as the sec­ond big­gest em­ployer sec­ond only to agri­cul­ture. Tourism has also been recog­nised by Govern­ment as one of the three sec­tors that will drive Uganda’s econ­omy into the mid­dle in­come sta­tus.

Afo: What is in store for Uganda over the course of 2018 and be­yond to con­tinue the good work al­ready com­menced and to en­hance its rep­u­ta­tion as a tourism and busi­ness travel hub fur­ther in the fu­ture?

JB: We are putting plans in place for a lot more lob­by­ing and ad­vo­cacy. Uganda will con­tinue to lobby and ad­vo­cate for the tourism sec­tor es­pe­cially at the in­ter­na­tional fo­rums in re­gards to po­si­tion­ing Uganda as a MICE des­ti­na­tion. UHOA is very pas­sion­ate about en­sur­ing that we have much bet­ter oc­cu­pancy rates for the ho­tels in 2018 so we shall be car­ry­ing out many do­mes­tic tourism cam­paigns to make sure we have more Ugan­dans and for­eign res­i­dents vis­it­ing the coun­try. UHOA will also be par­tic­i­pat­ing in many in­ter­na­tional events to meet in­ter­na­tional ho­tel in­vestors and en­cour­age them to come and set up ho­tels within the coun­try so as to fa­cil­i­tate the MICE mar­ket of trav­ellers. Afo: Fi­nally, look­ing for­ward, if we were to speak again in three-five years’ time, what progress and de­vel­op­ment would you hope and ex­pect to be able to re­port back, both in re­gards to the Uganda Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion as an en­tity, and in re­gards to the busi­ness travel in­dus­try in Uganda as a whole?

JB: I would imag­ine that in three­five years time UHOA will have more than 1,000 mem­ber ho­tels. UHOA will be the strong­est pri­vate sec­tor as­so­ci­a­tion in Uganda and the big­gest ad­vo­cate for the tourism in­dus­try. In the next five years, I re­ally hope to see Uganda as one of the big­gest MICE des­ti­na­tions in Africa. We should be able to com­pete with gi­ants like South Africa in this re­gard.

Murchi­son Fall Na­tional Park

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