Hotels relaunch their plan to open a boutique in Uganda

By GILBERT MWIJUKE

International hotel brands are targeting the Ugandan market as part of efforts to revive the tourism sector.

In 2020, the International Conference Association ranked Uganda as the sixth most popular meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (Mouse) destination in Africa. The idea was to encourage international hotel chains to invest in Uganda.

According to Jean Byamugisha, chief executive of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), at least five international hotel brands wanted to open new facilities in the country between 2020 and 2022, but the relentless Covid-19 pandemic has derailed those plans.

“International hotel brands are now interested in investing in Uganda due to the growth of the mouse industry in the country,” Ms. Byamugisha said.

“Most of these new facilities in Kampala would already be open without the coronavirus pandemic. “

International hotel brands planning to launch or expand their portfolio in Uganda are Onomo Hotels, Marriott International, Golden Tulip, Radisson Blu and Hilton International.

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Marriott International, which debuted in Uganda in 2016 with the acquisition of Starwood Hotels, is expanding its portfolio with the 142-room Four Points by Sheraton, but construction on the property in the leafy suburb of Kololo has been slowed down by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new property, set to officially open in 2022, will be the world’s fifth hotel in Uganda after the upscale Naguru Skyz Hotel, Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Protea Hotel by Marriott Entebbe and Protea Hotel by Marriott Kampala. .

Hilton International, which arrived in Uganda in 2019 with the opening of the 96-room Hilton Garden Inn Kampala hotel, plans to expand its presence in the country with the new 244-room Hilton Kampala hotel, which is also currently in operation. construction in the high end. Suburb of Nakasero. Hilton’s latest venture in Kampala was originally scheduled to start welcoming guests this year, but the launch has been postponed to a later date that has not been finalized, according to Ms Byamugisha.

Onomo Hotels, which currently manages properties in Senegal, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Gabon, South Africa, Mali, Togo, Morocco, Guinea, Cameroon, Mozambique and Tanzania, was also set to open another property in Kampala with the aim of having at least 3,700 rooms across Africa by 2022. But those plans have been put on hold for now.

At the end of last year, Radisson Blu was set to acquire property in Kampala, but the brand’s first establishment in the country has been put on the waiting list indefinitely as the pandemic rages on.

The impact of Covid-19 has hit the Ugandan hospitality industry and the wider tourism sector hard, but it is the upscale hotels that depend on international travelers that have suffered the most, as the number of visits is now at levels the country has not seen in decades. .

For years, tourism has been Uganda’s main source of foreign exchange, attracting 1,542,620 international visitors and raking in $ 1.6 billion of their money at its peak in 2019.

However, when Covid-19 hit last year, the industry slowed sharply, recording a 69.3% drop in foreign visitors to 473,085 and a 73% drop in tourism revenue to 500. millions of dollars.

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