Uganda: Hotel Sector Suffers Losses Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Hotel occupancy in the country has slumped drastically following the global coronavirus pandemic.

Hotel proprietors yesterday said the occupancy rates had dropped to as low as five per cent, noting that if the situation continues for two more months, they will lay off staff or close business.

Since the beginning of this month, players in the tourism sector said they have been dealing with cancellation of bookings and refunds.

Mr Amos Wekesa, the chief executive officer of Uganda Lodges and Great Lakes Safaris, said his company has so far received more than 2,500 cancellations.

"Right now all reservations for the lodges are only answering to cancellations and refund. By Friday last week, we had 2,500 cancellations as Uganda lodges. Nine out of 10 emails coming in are cancellations and that is happening across the board," Mr Wekesa said.

He said Uganda would not be hugely affected if the citizens owned the economy and challenged Ugandans to think of investing in banking, telecoms and other sectors to sustain the economy.

"Much as we are blocking entry because of coronavirus, the foreigners are earning from us. If you are a Ugandan and go to Shell, a Dutch is earning, if you use MTN and Stanbic Bank, a South African is earning, if you go to Total, a French is earning. It means that we actually do not own this economy. If the banks belonged to us, we would not be having these challenges. If we don’t own these businesses, then we don’t own the economy," he said.

At Serena Hotel, the situation is not different. Mr Anthony Chege, the hotel’s general manager, said the hotel had already seen cancellations worth $700,000 (Shs2.6b) for Kampala Serena and about $400,000 (Shs1.4b) for its Kigo branch.

Mr Chege said as foreign guests disappear, Ugandans should step in to fill the gap.


The hotel is offering $240 (about (Shs898,000) inclusive of lunch or dinner per night or $182 (about Shs680,000) per night for single inclusive of lunch or dinner, down from the normal $282 (about Shs1.05m) for a double bed."We have created special rates for residents and for Easter and we would want that they take advantage of these rates.We can also assure them that we are doing our very best to step up our hygiene and make sure that we do not expose them to any infections in the event that we get this virus here," Mr Chege said.His Sheraton Hotel counterpart, Mr […]

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