Kampala, Uganda — Hotels in Uganda are recording an increase in occupancy rate, an indicator that the sector is recovering from the coronavirus crisis.

According to Suzan Muhwezi, the chairperson of Uganda Hotel Owners Association and vice chairperson Board of Directors for Uganda Tourism Board, industry players recorded 28% occupancy rate in the period January – March 2021, up from 5.6% in March last year when COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Hotel facilities need to operate on an average of 40% occupancy rate to break even, according to industry experts.

Muhwezi was speaking to journalists at the opening of the classification and regrading exercise for hotel facilities in Kampala on Apr.22.

The last time the classification in Uganda was done, only six facilities qualified to be 5-star. “The exercise helps us to be more competitive within the East African community,” she said.

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.

Accommodation facilities are classified as lodges, motels, restaurants, guest houses, tented camps, town hotels, vacation hotels, villas, cottages and serviced apartments.

Location, size of rooms, restaurants, interior décor, guest rooms, bathrooms, suites, hygiene, safety, security and human resource are factors that experts consider during the classification exercise.

Uganda last did classification and rating exercise four years ago.

Bradford Ochieng, the UTB deputy chief executive officer, said the exercise supports standards in the industry and aids Uganda to move at the same pace with her counterparts in the region and beyond.

Going forward, Muhwezi said, as the country continues to promote tourism, grading and classification of hotels, rolling out of coronavirus vaccine and reopening of the economy, the occupancy rate will further increase. That will create opportunities such as jobs for youth and women, she said.

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