Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), responsible for promoting and marketing Uganda as the preferred tourism destination, has kicked off inspection of hotels in the country to ensure compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in the wake of COVID-19.
The SOPs aim to provide health and safety protocols for all hotels and accommodation facilities and create confidence amongst domestic and international visitors as Uganda readies herself for tourism revitalisation.
Tourism has been perhaps the most hit sector due to the Covid lockdown that saw the airport and borders closed to travelers.
While addressing journalists at Skyz Protea Hotel in Naguru on Monday morning, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Godfrey Kiwanda said the inspection was a critical part of the recovery process for Uganda’s tourism sector.
“Today, we kick off the inspection of the implementation of the SOPs. This exercise not only demonstrates the steps being taken by Uganda’s tourism sector in readiness and recovery, but the commitment by both government and private sector to ensure safety of both citizens and tourists,” said Minister Kiwanda.
According to a recent report released by the UN World Travel Organisation, health and safety will be a key determinant for travel by tourists across the world as the global industry recovers.
“In addition to maintaining the recommended health and safety measures of social distancing, sanitisation and wearing of masks, every hotel will be required to have an isolation room, formulate an on-ground emergency task force and have a COVID-19 resource center accessible to all,” added the Minister.
Kiwanda heaped praise on the hospitality sector for its key role played since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Uganda saying, hotels supported the institutional quarantining process and acted as the model centres for the hospitality SOPs which are key in the quality and health assurance.
On his part, UTB Deputy CEO, Bradford Ochieng, highlighted that the Board, in fulfilment of its mandate, ensures quality assurance across all tourism facilities and implementation of the SOPs is a key strategy in the revitalization of the sector. He said visitors’ confindence in a destination’s health safety is a key decision making factor in travel.
“Ours is a promise that quality assurance in Uganda’s tourism facilities will be upheld across travel, accommodation, amenities and experience,” Ochieng said.
He noted that UTB was in the process of developing a tourism sector recovery plan that is hoped to rebirth the sector.
The Chairperson of the Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Mrs Susan Muhwezi, called on the association members and the hospitality sector to uphold the SOPs put in place by the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities.
“We understand that hotels have had to increase their operational costs to fit into what is now the new normal that led to the creation of the tourism Sector SOPs. We are hopeful that the government will support private sector investment in this process through the stimulus package. This will go a long way in supporting the recovery of our hospitality sector,” she said.
According to UTB, the inspection will traverse the whole country starting with Kampala City and Entebbe town this week.