"Being one of the most welcoming countries in Africa, Uganda has a diversity of attractions such as mountains, tribes, and national parks. The country boasts of vast species of wild animals which makes visiting easy for the hospitality sector to grow. The inclusion of new technologies in Tourism has simplified travel for visitors and created visibility for the country’s beauty."
Paul Midy - CEO Jumia Travel
Uganda ranks 13th in the African economies for 2016.
Travel and tourism contributed 3.7% to Uganda’s total GDP in 2015.
Tourism contributed 7.8% of the total employment in 2015.
Over 37 % of the population has internet access.
There have been a lot of tourism campaigns arising all over East Africa recently with Uganda taking the lead; yet we still do not seem to be performing as well as expected. What is missing in marketing Uganda as a top African destination?
There are many factors that go into making a marketing campaign successful. One of these is income. A campaign can only be successful if the public has disposable income to go out and actually tour the country, which unfortunately has not been the case for us. Most Ugandans also don’t have a “holiday culture”. There is a misconception that holidays are expensive and so most people prefer to go to the villages and this renders the marketing campaigns ineffective. Other factors include poor customer care, expensive hotels, expensive costs of transport, lack of aggressive local and international media campaigns etc, that all play into achieving the desired objective of the marketing campaign.
However, these last few months, for the first time in a long time, we have seen tourism finally start gaining attention from the government. We are very appreciative of our Hon Minister of State for Tourism Hon Kiwanda for the enthusiasm he has brought to the tourism industry with the “Tulambule,” initiative that’s aimed at the domestic market.
Domestic tourism seems to be at the forefront of Uganda's tourism strategy since the appointment of Mr. Kiwanda the new State Minister for Tourism, what more needs to be done for Ugandans to see clearly what Uganda has to offer?
I think our Minister Kiwanda has hit the nail on the head with the “Tulambule” campaign. The minister has also made very good progress in getting all the stakeholders to speak one language. Now hotels have a great working relationship with the tour operators and safari guides and this is creating an enabling environment for business in the industry.
More needs to be done in terms of getting sponsors on board so as to “make noise” on the products that Uganda has on offer especially for fellow Ugandans. We need to see more Uganda’s visiting their country and making use of social media to encourage others to join them. We also need to appeal more to the local and regional market seeing as Kenya is Uganda’s biggest source market and Rwanda, a strategic partner.
The grading of hotels commenced last year 2016 to help improve standards of hotel properties in the country, how relevant is this system as of now especially to so many Ugandans who prefer affordability?
Actually grading commenced in 2014 and the first batch of hotels to be graded were awarded their stars in 2015. 2016 saw 38 hotels outside of Kampala get assessed and graded. This system is extremely relevant because as you rightly mentioned, it helps to ensure maintenance of standards as the rating can be revoked if the hotel does not maintain the standard.
Grading also helps with the pricing of the hotel for instance you will not find a one star hotel charging four or five star prices and this can help every Ugandan planning a trip to know which category best suits their pockets.
|Fort Portal||4.5%||54 USD|
With the growth of corporate hospitality in Uganda, how are most hoteliers maintaining their stay at the top with the competition?
I believe every hotel and not only the hotels but every company in order to maintain its stay at the top, it has to have a strategic plan. The strategy developed provides guides for that entity’s short and long term plans. As the adage goes “if you do not know where you are going, any road will lead you there” and it is also true that in the process you might completely lose your way. Therefore, a hotel that understands the strategic management process, will achieve its desired performance and will remain on the top.
How are hotel chains tapping in the growing Ugandan economy?
Most have expanded their portfolios in and out of Kampala to Entebbe, and the National Parks.
Has the emergence of Online Travel Agencies been a developmental trend in customer bookings especially in the Ugandan market?
Yes, it has. With the era of growth in new technologies like smart phones, making hotel bookings has shifted from offline to online. OTA’s have aggressively established themselves in the market, and are now well know than individual hotels. So, a first time traveler to a destination will highly book through an OTA as compared to directly with the hotel.
75.5% Foreign visitor spending
24.5% Domestic spending
66.4% Leisure spending
33.6% Business spending
Customer care has been key when it comes to maintaining a good relationship with clients, how have you handled keeping the customers satisfied even when the situation is tense?
As a travel advisors, our target is always to give the customer 100% satisfaction when they visit our site. We try as much as possible to put ourselves in their shoes and understand their needs, that way, we are able to offer them recommendations and advice based vividly on their desires and not our assumptions. Also, the large inventory of hotels on the website helps us a lot when offering alternatives and making recommendations to guests.
At times it is hard to know what the customer wants but you still have to make sure the booking is done, are there any processes put in place that you follow to complete the transaction?
Well, communication is the backbone of customer service. The first step/guideline is always communicating with the customer until we thoroughly understand their needs.
In cases where a booking has already been done and has been cancelled because the hotel is fully booked, we offer alternatives that are as similar to the originally booked hotel as possible.
Booking a hotel online seems to be catching on in Uganda as compared to two years ago, how have you been handling hotels that have not yet embraced the process yet travelers keep booking their rooms?
Technology is the future and luckily for us, most of our hotel partners have happily embraced it. However, there are still some who haven't quite accepted this trend. We have set up trainings to educate hotels on how to use our services to maximize sales on their end. Whenever we communicate with hotels, we educate them on how to confirm bookings for themselves and how to use our extranet app to manage their profiles.
|Percentage of search||Time before|
|6%||More Than One Month|
|3%||More Than Two Month|
In terms of revenue management in Uganda, do most hotels have a basis in regards to the packages offered by OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) or their own terms?
The hotels set the packages they offer to OTAs on their own terms depending on the working relationship they have with us. But we also have terms of service based on the desire to have a hotel live on Jumia Travel. We work to ensure that we have the best rates online.
What is the main task of a Revenue Manager in Jumia Travel and what are the challenges faced? An RM is an advisor, someone who advises hotels on how to get more business online: for instance, by introducing East African rates, bed only rates, and travel packages. The challenges can be summed up in: Uncooperative hotel managers, hotels have a problem with high 18%VAT and local tax they pay for each room occupancy which affects the minimum rate they are willing to give their hotel rooms at. This is also a challenge because as a result some hotels will not give any offers or discounted rates. Lastly, poor communication and low average use of the Extranet and other applications meant to ease processes.
There are so many team players in the Ugandan hospitality sector which highly influences the revenue trends as a whole, have you observed any of these trends?
In regards to team players influencing the revenue trends in Uganda, we have observed that the new East African community integration has enabled hotels push resident rates as well government taxes influencing hotel rates in the region.
Tourism in Uganda has registered an incredible growth owing to its many national parks, prolific bird life, world heritage sites, high scaling mountains and it’s tremendously hospitable people. Internet penetration has turned Uganda into one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, with many wanting to visit the ‘Pearl of Africa’. This hospitality report looks at the growth and development in the Ugandan tourism sector, and the overall impact of Internet on travel.
World Tourism & Travel Council, Uganda Communications Commision, World Bank, Trading Economics, CIA World Factbook, Uganda Bureau Of Standards, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Bank of Uganda, Venture Capital For Africa, Coface, Internet World Stats, W Hospitality Group, Rough Guides.