Hospitality boom in Uganda

Sheraton KampalaInvestment in hotels up, but players call for new strategies if sector is to support national development

Between February 26-27, Sheraton Kampala Hotel was 100% booked for guests and conference facilities, a visibly excited top official told The Independent.

In an interview, Chris Pollard, the hotel’s general manager, said business was growing at 15% level, which is well within the industry’s desired levels.  Apparently, Sheraton is one of the top hotels that are starting to reap after years of investing.

Kampala Serena Hotel, Protea Hotel, Commonwealth Hotel, Speke ResortSince 2004, the management has invested over $30m (about Shs 75 billion) in upgrading their infrastructure in anticipation of the current boom. Consequently, occupancy levels at the hotel have soared to an average of 90% currently from 40% in 2004.

“We see potential in this market and the economy in particular,” Pollard said, referring to the country’s status as a top investment destination, with a boisterous economy.   As expected, competition is stiff, but the high-end hotels have now pulled away from the pack, leaving the low-end hotels to fight for the scraps. Pollard was largely positive about the rising competition saying it was healthy as it sets the pace for professionalism and quality standards in the industry.

Anthony Chege, the general manager at Kampala Serena Hotel, was not complaining either. He said the hotel’s occupancy levels have grown to over 75% since 2007 when it opened. “To us this is a significant achievement,” said Chege. Riding on their strong brands, the high end hotels have particularly found a niche market in corporate companies, NGOs as well as government ministries and departments.

While other smaller hotels suffer from periods of ‘off season,’ most high-end hotels are booked almost all year round.   Nicole Braun, a manager at Protea Hotel, also said they have seen an increase in occupancy levels every year.  At the Commonwealth Hotel and Speke Resort in Munyonyo), occupancy levels are equally growing well, according to Petzer Greg, the general manager. Read more

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