The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented the tourism sector with unprecedented challenges due to forced lockdowns and restrictions on travel globally including Uganda, the impact of COVID-19 on the hotels and Lodges in Uganda has been immense and can not go without noticing the challenges it comes with, Uganda which survives mostly on domestic and international travellers using their services, but due to COVID-19 causing restrictions on travel many travellers who had booked with these hotels have been forced to cancel their booking and some have postponed their planned travels causing many hotels and lodges to freeze operations until further advised by the Uganda government.
Before the Coronavirus COVID-19, according to the latest statistics by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities the Uganda tourism industry had had a relatively steady 5 years with visitor numbers (arrivals) growing by 19% from 1.27 million in FY2014/15 to 1.5 million in FY2018/19 on average by 4% every year, versus a global 3% average growth. The number of leisure visitors to Uganda which is the real measure of tourism was growing twice faster by 41.4% from 220,219 visitors to 311,335 in the same period and at a compounded annual growth rate of 7.1%.
This growth in the tourism visitor numbers to Uganda has then attracted many investors in the hospitality industry in Uganda setting up various accommodation range facilities throughout the major catchment areas of travellers in Uganda, according to Jean Byamugisha the Executive Director Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association by end of the financial year 2018 there was an estimated 6,000 registered accommodation facilities in Uganda offering about 410,000 rooms and 487,000 beds. Before this unprecedented COVID-19, there was a recorded positive increase in the industry room occupancy rates growing from 38% to 51% and hope for more increase but this has so far been cut short by the awful coronavirus which has cancellations, refunds and losses within the hospitality industry.
The hotels and the lodges (Hospitality sector) in Uganda by the end of 2018, created 667,600 jobs contributing 90% of all jobs in the Uganda tourism sector of this 58% going to women and 77% to the youth (18-35years), due to COVID-19 most of the employees have been laid off until further notice which has made them vulnerable and are most are at risk of losing their jobs completely.
The Coronavirus is here and has caused changes in our normal life and travel with this we only have to follow precautions set by World Health Organization and Uganda government to combat this pandemic, many plans travel to, in and out of Uganda have all been restricted which has resulted into forcing travellers who had earlier planned to visit Uganda to cancel their travels and others requesting for refunds. Given the fact this pandemic was unprecedented, many hotels and lodges have found it had to process refunds immediately and have requested travellers to instead reschedule their booking to a future date.
The Uganda Tourism Board has issued travel recommendations that Hotels and Lodges in Uganda will have to follow during the coronavirus and post coronavirus, due to the current threat posed by Corona Virus to Uganda travel trade and tourism assets including the Lodges and Hotels, it is the recommendation of the Uganda Tourism Board that;
Due to Corona Virus which has affected and caused many losses to Hotels and Lodges in Uganda, after the virus is gone many will use the best practices set by WHO and the Uganda tourism board while handling travellers to ensure there is no further spread of COVID-19, we do believe there will be many discounts offered airlines and other service providers globally and in Uganda which will in-turn help Hotels and Lodges in Uganda to discount their accommodation packages as well to interest more travellers to visit Uganda and use their facilities. We as well do believe that travellers who had plans to travel will do travel again after the virus is gone so we will keep our hopes high, given the fact tourism for a long time has been resilient and continued to survive to give various pandemics and insecurities around the globe.
Many Hotels and Lodges in Uganda have decided to use this time with no business to do instead look at their businesses for purposes of re-engineering and re-inventing them. For instance, reviewing of operations, coming up with better plans, improved facility designs and arrangements, bedroom setup, cuisine and menu changes, system changes to promote efficiency and enhance competitiveness; Contingency planning for the future; creation of new rules and cancellation policies; greater staff ability to work using virtual technology; upgrading company websites; travel and tourism industry coming together to collaborate; local operators seeing the value in sourcing travellers from the domestic and regional markets; Upgrading managerial capacity on business crisis recovery action, content writing and marketing.
Encounter Africa safaris started in 2011 offering amazing experiences to Uganda and Rwanda but have since expanded to offer safaris to Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our magic in organizing authentic experience stems from the fact that we have overtime assembled a team mixed with young and energetic staff guided by well experienced mature managers and directors who are Ugandans and passionate about what they do. If contacted, one of our staff will assist in providing accurate and timely information that you can rely on. Encounter Africa Safaris is highly rated and reviewed on trip Advisor and safari bookings.
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