Dollar billing locks out locals from hospitality industry


Kampala. The habit of high end restaurants and hotels to peg their bills on the dollar scares away local consumers from such facilities, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, has said.
This, they said, has as a result, made the survival of majority of such facilities in the hospitality industry to largely depend on foreign clients, a model that is not sustainable.

Speaking ahead of the 6th Annual Uganda International Hotel and Restaurant Expo, due for September, Ms Jean Byamugisha, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association executive director, said the local population should be part of the segment that is enjoying services offered by the hospitality industry.

“There is a perception that the quality of services offered in hospitality industry are not for domestic consumption. That, I must tell you is a wrong perception. We are working together with industry players to come up with domestic rates because we believe the industry cannot thrive without local consumption,” she said.
Apart from the billing system, a number of people have raised concern on how restaurants and hotels profile their menus, which in most cases excludes local consumers.

Mr Isaiah Kojwang, the Holiday Express Hotel director of sales and marketing, said until the population believes that the rates are fair, hotels rooms will continue to go empty, which has a bearing on investment.
“The idea that these facilities foreigners and the wealthy should be discarded,” he said.
The hotel industry in Uganda largely depends on foreigners, which creates a lot of unhealthy competition. Mr Kojwang said the industry must devise ways to draft local consumers into their programmes to appreciate the industry.

However, he said, “this can only happen if we give them affordable rates and in local currencies”.
He said Uganda needs to emulate Kenya, which ensures that rates for local consumers are lower than those of foreigners.
Mr Vivian Lyazi, the assistant commissioner in charge of tourism at the Ministry of Tourism, said government has always held that domestic market which includes lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation and cruise line, among others is crucial for the prosperity of the hospitality industry.

“We are aware that there has been some difficulties in local consumption because some industry service providers are charging for their services in dollars. But the situation is improving. We have continued to urge industry players to offer affordable rates for the domestic market without compromising the quality of services,” he said.

Domestic tourism

According to Mr Vivian Lyazi, the upcoming Uganda Hotel and Restaurants Expo 2018, will be important, especially in regard to promoting of domestic tourism.
Uganda has a number of service industry that charge in dollars key among which include real estate, hospitality and accommodation, among others.

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