Expensive hotels: Top operators offer solutions to trend threatening tourism sector
Build more high-end hotels and attract more international hotel chains to create competition and lower rates. Those are some of the views of experts in Uganda’s hotel sector about the high costs of hotel accommodation in Uganda which they fear could hurt the country’s tourism industry as travelers; mainly tourists, look for cheaper alternatives in the region.
Cuthbert Baguma, the former executive director at Uganda Tourism Board told The Independent that the high costs of accommodation in Uganda compared with its peers in the region is mainly attributed to the low supply of similar facilities.
“The challenge that we have at the moment is the low supply of the high-end hotel accommodation facilities in the country compared with demand,” Baguma, who has been involved in the country’s hotel classification in the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities said.
“We have very few facilities of good status and if this trend continues, then, Uganda will soon lose its tourism competitiveness in the region.”
Baguma says low marketing by the upcoming local hotel brands has also left internationally recognised brands such as Serena and Sheraton to rely on their international networks to monopolise international guests seeking high end-facilities. This has made the top hotels reluctant to lower their accommodation costs.
Baguma’s views are shared by Amos Wekesa, the managing director of Great Lakes Safaris which is among the leading tour operators in Uganda.
Wekesa says the low supply of high-end hotels coupled with the low volume of tourist arrivals explains the high cost of hotel accommodation in the country compared with its peers in the region.
“More than 80% of hotel rooms in East Africa are located in Kenya. Now, this coupled with the high volume of tourists both domestic and international has driven the costs of accommodation in Kenya down as a result of competition,” he says.
A quick survey by The Independent among the high-end hotels in Uganda shows that a night in a 5-star facility (most luxurious) in the country costs an average of US$250 compared with US$244 in Rwanda and US$231 in Tanzania for an ordinary room. In Kenya, it costs an average of US$173 a night for the same facility.
Similarly, the Uganda’s hotels charge an average of US$580 for a night for an executive suite compared with US$459 in Rwanda and US$466 in Tanzania. In Kenya, the same hotel room costs US$ 486 a night.
This is also reflected in other classes of hotels starting with the least luxurious typically known as 1-star compared with their peers in the region.