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Tourism board starts classification of accommodation facilities nationwide

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has initiated a countrywide grading and classification process for all business accommodation facilities. UTB CEO, Lilly Ajarova, announced this development during a press conference at the board headquarters in Kampala Wednesday.  She explained that the operation began on August 1, 2023, and is being implemented in phases.

Initially, the process focuses on hotels in towns and cities such as Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, Fortportal, Masaka, Mbale, and Mbarara. Later, it will extend to other types of facilities across the country, including motels, guest houses, safari lodges, and restaurants.

“This is under the quality assurance section, as enshrined in the tourism sector from the tourism act of 2008 Section (J) UTB enforces and monitors standards and (K) mandates us to register, inspect, license and classify tourism enterprises,” she said.

She says that the grading exercise aligns Uganda and its tourism industry with the provisions of Article 115(2) of the East African Treaty protocol, which seeks a unified East African federation, emphasizing similar quality services. The assessors for this edition were accredited based on East African set standards to maintain consistency.

Last carried out in 2018, the new digitalized exercise is expected to enhance the country’s tourism industry and provide scientific evidence of the quality of services offered. “This is an opportunity for us as the regulators and the industry players to scientifically find out what we have and what we require as we are marketing destination Uganda,” she said

Participating in the exercise is currently voluntary, but facilities that opt to be graded pay UGX 100,000 for a star rating. A higher star rating enables facilities to market themselves effectively and identify areas for improvement. The grading process takes multiple factors into account, including service delivery quality, facility size, and available amenities.

Suzan Muhwezi, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) board chairperson, and CEO Jean Byamugisha expressed their support for the initiative, emphasizing that the private sector, particularly the hotel industry, should actively participate to ensure fair checks and balances for their benefit. She explained that the grading and classification exercise adds value to hotel investments, equips facilities with proper marketing tools, and informs their pricing structures.

Byamugisha urged all of its 700 members to embrace the exercise, stressing that it will help maintain industry standards and effectively manage guest expectations. She explained that by participating, hotel owners stand to gain numerous benefits, making their involvement a valuable decision.

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