The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has set in motion a plan for the inspection of hotels to ensure compliance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that were put in place by the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
The inspection is among a set of activities that have been put in line to help prepare the tourism industry to resume its services that were put to a halt by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ban on travel that ensued after.
A mock exercise was held at Skyz hotel in Naguru on Tuesday, June 23 to demonstrate how the activity will be carried out at various facilities countrywide.
Spearheaded by UTB officials, an inspection of Skyz hotel to see whether the facility meets the SOPs was carried out in the presence of representatives from other sector players like the Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the ministry of Tourism to set the pace of how the activity will be carried out elsewhere.
The SOPs aim to provide health and safety protocols for all hotel and accommodation facilities and create confidence amongst domestic and international visitors as Uganda readies herself for tourism revitalization in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While presiding over the exercise, the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Godfrey Kiwanda, stressed the need for the activity to be carried out thoroughly as it is critical in kick-starting a recovery for the 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 the safety of both our citizens and tourists,” he noted.
A recent report released by the UN World Travel Organisation puts health and safety as a key determinant for travel by tourists across the world as the global industry recovers; something that the minister reechoed.
“In addition to maintaining the recommended health and safety measures of social distancing, sanitization and wearing of masks, every hotel will going forward be required to have an isolation room, formulate an on-ground emergency task force and have a COVID-19 resource centre accessible to all,” Kiwanda said.
According to UTB deputy CEO, Bradford Ochieng, the board’s implementation of the SOPs is a key strategy in the revitalization of the sector and ensuring safety and confidence of the visitors, a key decision making factor in travel, going forward.
“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. Susan Muhwezi, the chairperson of the UHOA also called on the association members and the hospitality sector to uphold the SOPs put in place by the ministry of Tourism.
“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 to support the recovery of our hospitality sector,” she said.
The inspection is expected to be conducted countrywide in all hotels and facilities that are involved in the tourist trade as the country prepares to fully open up the economy and travel which is very essential for tourism to thrive.