I had the opportunity to host them at Source of the Nile Hotel in Jinja for two days, which was the last destination on their itinerary before they flew back.
I interacted with all the group members in numerous spheres. All members of the group where amazed by the abundant resources and opportunities available in the tourism sector considering the diverse attractions. One key area they were not impress with was the Hotel. This was not with the structure, building or even amenities but the level of service! One member commented that, they were in about 7 hotels with 7 different service yet they anticipated having the same level of service in all the hotels.
This comment prompted me to share my thoughts on how to salvage the image of our hotels in the wake of the substantive work done by the Uganda Tourism Board through the PR agencies and the like of Amos Wekesa in the major source countries.
Many of us in the tourism and hospitality industry have started seeing the impact of these campaigns, however, the question looming is whether we are able to sustain the demand that is being induced and generated for the country by this campaign.
As you may agree with me, majority of our tourists from Europe, UK and USA are generation X with enormous wealth inherited from the baby boomers. They are characterized by high lifestyle and spending ability with very high affinity of luxury. These are the generations that are able to spend over USD 2000 per day in any destination. Unfortunately, most of our destinations do not have proper accommodation and service that can cater for this group.
I must commend UTB for doing great work of branding the country with focus on almost all the tourist attraction in the country notably the National Parks, the Mountain Gorilla, Culture and Religious tourism. However, it is important to note that the consumption of all this attraction is completed in a Hotel.
A tourist who visits Uganda for Gorilla Tracking will complete the experience in the Hotel room. His travelling to the wilderness is like washing hands and praying before eating. The Actual eating takes place at the Dining table and that is a hotel room. It is in the room where the encounter in the wilds comes to reality, where a tourist is eager to enjoy his dinner and rush to the room to flip though the pictures and complete the days experience. It is here that he selects the best pictures to share with their relatives and friends. It is therefore, unfortunate that, instead of a tourist completing the consumption, they are pondering whether to change hotel or complaining about bad food, or lamenting about a waiter or an unwelcoming receptionist.