(URN) Hoteliers in Kampala have registered improved guest booking this festive season compared to 2020, the worst year ever for the hospitality sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, the hoteliers say holiday seekers and tourists, both natives, and foreign guests would make significant reservations for accommodation and get-together parties among others.
In an attempt to curtail the spread of the pandemic, the Government imposed extended lockdown measures that affected the operations of the hotels restricting both local and international travels, whose impacts have persisted on business to date.
Peter Ekudeo, the Regional Manager for The Grand Global Hotel in Kikoni, a Kampala suburb says that they have recorded less than 10 percent occupancy of their 100 suite rooms at the facility. He said dozens of foreign guests canceled reservations due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Ekudeo told URN that prior to the pandemic, the hotel’s annual income statement would reflect at least Shillings 6 billion but their income has drastically dropped to only Shillings 2 billion. He says that the dwindling business forced them to downsize their staff from 200 to only 70.
At Hotel La Grande in Kawempe Division with the occupancy of 40 guests, the situation is not any better either, according to Richard Ssemfuma, the Foods and Beverages Supervisor. Ssenfuma says that their swimming pool, conference halls, internet, and health club are idle with exception of chance guests.
Kshitij Khurana, the General Manager of Millennium Terrace Hotel in Kamwokya described their current guest reservations as progressive and encouraging because of the easing of the lockdown restrictions.
Khurana revealed that the slow guest turnover has forced them to employ workers based on the available bookings to keep their operation costs like salary and utility among other things low in order to keep in business.
Augustine Baluku, the Manager of Sir Jose Hotel in Ggaba, says that their facility is regaining momentum despite the prolonged COVID-19 restrictions that locked up the economy. He anticipates the bookings to improve if the Government fully opens up the economy next year.
However, several other sector players with Apartment businesses were hesitant in discussing their prospects and experiences in the hotel and hospitality industry citing confidentiality and competition.
The Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) statistics indicate that the umbrella currently has up to 603 members. The industry employs up to 58 percent of female workers and 77 percent are youth between 18 to 30 years.