Banks Need To Forge Solid Partnerships With The Tourism Sector To Boost Recovery

By Michael Kanaabi Dollar

Tourism revenues both domestic and international for Uganda having dropped from a peak of close to 1.9 Billion US Dollars in 2018 to under 200 million US Dollars in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic was a big set back to the local tourism industry.

However, Uganda's banking industry through its lead association the Uganda Bankers Association has this industry and it’s recovery on the top of its agenda as expressed in the 2022 Bankers Conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Tuesday.

Julius Kakeeto the Ugandan Bankers Association Vice Chairman and CEO of Post Bank Uganda called on fellow leading bankers to consider increasing finance to the tourism sector to fast track its recovery after the full opening up of the economy.

He said: “There is need for banks to partner with other financial sector players and private sector tourism players to create and offer the best possible credit and financing solutions to Entrepreneurs and investors in tourism sector so as to unlock its full potential,”

While giving opening remarks for the final day of the annual Uganda Bankers Association Conference 2022, Kakeeto emphasized the need for more synergies and partnerships between the public sector, the banking industry and private players in the tourism industry.

75% of investments in the tourism industry are owned by local entrepreneurs and investors and extending credit lines to them will not only have a net positive effect on their growth but also create a substantial trickle down effect on employees, suppliers and other service providers to the industry.

Financing to the tourism industry according to Kakeeto reached Shs435 billion in 2021 a number that should grow significantly as new opportunities emerge in the sector from it’s full opening up post lockdown.

The tourism industry pulled in over 1.6 billion US dollars to the national economy prior to the lockdowns in 2019 showing the potentially huge returns credit to the sector can generate.

Hon. Daudi Migereko the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chairman while addressing the bankers and other stakeholders reminded all attendees of the 7.7% contribution to GDP contributed by the tourism sector to the local economy before the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Therefore, it is imperative for the bankers to consider extending increased credit on more favorable terms to the sector to help the industry recover and shoot to greater growth levels.

The former Cabinet Minister also applauded Post Bank for extending credit to him and other players in the tourism sector at a time when other banks were still skeptical an example he urged other banks to follow and help grow the sector.

With the World Tourism and Travel Council predicting growth of the tourism sector in Africa to surpass 27.7% for 2022, banks should take the lead with Development finance Institutions and Government lending a hand to grow the sector he added.

Stephen Assimwe the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) Executive Director and former CEO of UTB noted that the tourism sector offers some of the best returns for investors and bankers. It’s only in this industry where you will find a client (tourist) spending given up to $7000 USD in a week while here a good indicator for potential returns in the industry.  

“With tourists spending over 300$ a day per square metre of space on accommodation in top hotels which is much higher than the average rent in the city for say a week, banks should look no further when it comes to which sector to lend” he says.

 Government also needs to heavily increase it’s direct spending on tourism and cut back on industry taxes to have impact especially in international markets and also encourage more investment in the sector as a result.


Adventurous Ruparelia Family Tour Kidepo Valley National Park

The tourism sector is slowly coming back to life after the COVID19 pandemic brought all travel plans to a halt. But as people continue to live with the virus, travel enthusiasts are back on the road going places.

In Uganda, the tourism fraternity is opening up with caution – the hotels and national parks have been opened and functioning as by the set Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and other health guidelines.

After close to seven months of no major travel, businessman Sudhir Ruparelia took time off and travel to the North Eastern part of the country with his family. The destination was Kidepo Valley National Park.

Ruparelia, arguably the richest man in Uganda and a tourism enthusiast and conservationist, according to Africa Tembelea, conducted on a game drive on arrival to the park, and within about twenty minutes his family spotted a lion. Also spotted giraffes, kobs, zebras and other wild birds and animals.

“Can you imagine within 20 minutes of landing we are actually able to see a lion! This is Kidepo National Game Park for you, it’s my second time here,” Sudhir said. Dr. Ruparelia called on all those who have not visited this amazing park to do so if there is an opportunity.

“It’s a place that one needs to visit from wherever you are in the world-Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda, truly the Pearl of Africa,” he said.

Gazetted in 1962, Kidepo Valley National Park tucked in the corner of Uganda’s border with South Sudan and Kenya is truly one of Uganda’s spectacular parks. It is an area of classic beauty with vast and myriad herds of wildlife roaming freely through untamed nature.

Speke Resort Nominated In World Luxury Hotel Awards

Speke Resort and Conference Centre, fresh from winning the travellers' choice winner’s award at the 18th annual Travelers’ Choice Awards organized by TripAdvisor, has yet again been nominated in this year's World Luxury Hotel Awards.

Speke Resort was last year named the best lakeside luxury resort in Africa at the 2019 World Luxury Hotels Awards which were announced on October 12th at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Finland.

“We are thrilled to announce that we have been nominated for the World Luxury Hotel Awards. Thank you for your support throughout all these years!” Speke Resort, which is part of the larger Speke Group of Hotels said in a brief message on their social media pages.

The World Luxury Hotel Awards, established in 2006, celebrate achievements in the luxury hotel industry offering international recognition as voted by guests, travellers and industry players alike.

Over 300 000 international travellers nominate and vote each year for their favourite hotels, during a four-week period to select the winners. The Awards have over 100 categories with 2000 hotels profiled and nominated.

Speke Resort located in Munyonyo, a posh suburb in Uganda’s capital Kampala, offers the best in luxury accommodation, dining and cuisines, leisure activities like horse riding and swimming, meetings and conferences, wellness facilities like the gym and events planning like weddings.

Now You Can Book Entire Dolphin Suites Hotel For A Day In Latest Offer

Do you have an event, a party, a milestone to you want to celebrate and you want a full package of venue, food and drinks and accommodation, Dolphin Suites Hotel in Bugolobi is offering itself to you and your guests for a day’s booking.

The lavish Bugolobi based Dolphin Suites has revealed a friendly offer of Shs4mper day to all its customers willing to book the entire hotel. "Yes, it's true, you can have us out of the suites for a full day. We are getting booked so fast, hurry while we still last," the hotel posted on its social media pages.

The hotel which is part of the Speke Group of Hotels is a unique boutique-style hotel offering 27 luxurious and comfortable guest rooms with individual balconies overlooking the hillside of Bugolobi and the city of Kampala. An ideal choice for those who want a quiet stay, close to the business and corporate houses.

The hotel located Bugolobi, Princess Anne Drive, 5 KM from the city Centre and 35 KM north from the Entebbe International Airport, the hotel is 500m from Village Mall Bugolobi and this offer shopping opportunities to all travellers

It is a perfect ambience that will ensure value for money on the guest’s part. Henceforth, Dolphin Suites has established itself as the epitome of relaxed grandeur, welcoming visitors to the city with stunningly appointed rooms and a host of facilities.

Members, residents and guests can also take time out to relax and de-stress with a little pampering. We offer an array of beauty and relaxation treatments for members to enjoy from a massage to ease any worries away, to a relaxing facial or an invigorating body exfoliation treatment.

The hotel also has an excellent bar, restaurant and outstanding banqueting facilities where one may relax, meet friends or even discuss business.

Speke Resort, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort Lure Customers With These Offers

The tourism sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the global travel restrictions imposed by world governments as they prevented travellers from spreading and contracting the virus that has left almost 8m people hospitalized worldwide.

Uganda, with a tourism sector dependent on foreign travellers, and with an almost non-existent domestic tourism base, is struggling to get back. Government and sector players are devising means to re-energize their businesses.

And following the partial uplifting of the COVID-19 lockdown, service providers like hotels and resorts are now eying the local market. To lure local clientele, they are coming with affordable packages and tariffs.

One such entity remodelling their business is Speke Group of Hotels who through their twin resorts – Speke Resort and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort – has lined up affordable promos, packages and tariffs to attract guests.

Management at Speke Resort indicated that they have committed their resources to observe the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene and implemented a number of additional measures to ensure safety and well being of guests.

 Below we look at some of the promos which despite of the ongoing health risk of COVID-19 pandemic can be exploited by anyone looking for the adventure and thrill of life.

Horse Riding At The Equestrian Centre

Horse riding is a new adventure that Ugandans have embraced well and are willing to take whenever the opportunity arises. Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort’s equestrian centre is offering discounts for interest quests.

At the moment, you can enjoy 20 minutes of a pony ride for at the cost of Shs30, 000; a one hour hack at Shs55, 000; private lessons for 30 minutes at Shs50, 000; shared lessons for 45 minutes for 2 people at Shs50,  000 each; group lessons for 3-8 people for 45 minutes at Shs40, 000; special lessons for 45 minutes (10 rides) at Shs320, 000 and photoshoot for 15 minutes at Shs80, 000

Boat Rides at The Marina

The beauty of the two sister resort hotels is enhanced by the proximity of the beautiful Lake Victoria. On the side of the five-star accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants and bars, the resorts boost of some of the liveliest aqua-sport beefed by different boats for boat rides.

While at Speke Resort you can enjoy canoe water safari including a 30 minutes canoe ride at Shs40, 000, a 1-hour canoe ride at Shs80, 000 and a 1-hour harrier ride at Shs330, 000.

If the canoes don’t offer you the extreme thrill you want, the speed boats are available. You can choose a formula speed boat ride for 1 hour at only $240 or the proline speed boat for 1 hour at $240.

Fishing Trips

 Fishing on the calm waters of Lake Victoria is an adventure that you should refresh and calm any mind that is has been busy making important decisions. The silence as the hooks laylow with their baits can be the moment you need to think straight.

You can hire a canoe to go fishing for 4 hours at a cost of Shs235, 000 or 8 hours for Shs380, 000. You can also opt for the high-powered canoe for 6 hours at Shs500, 000 and or the proline speed boat for 1 hour at $240.

Weekend Accommodation Special

The two resort hotels are also offering good deals on accommodation on weekends – Saturday and Sunday.

At Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, you can spend the night in the Executive Room (2 guests) on full board at Shs987, 000; bed and breakfast at Shs793, 950; room only at Shs671, 500.

The Executive Suite (2 guests) full board is at Shs1, 722, 200; bed and breakfast is at Shs1, 477, 300 and room only at Shs1, 279, 800. The Presidential Suite (4 guests) full board is at Shs2, 701, 800; bed and breakfast at Shs2, 263, 350 and room only at Shs1, 967, 100.

At Speke resort, the Deluxe Single Room (1 guest) full board is at Shs549, 050; bed and breakfast is at Shs474, 000 and room only is at Shs398, 950. The Deluxe Double Room (2 guests) full board is at Shs742, 600; bed and breakfast is at Shs588, 550 and room only is at Shs450, 300.

The One Bedroom Suite (2 guests) full board is at Shs742, 600; bed and breakfast is at Shs588, 550 and room only is at Shs450, 300. The Superior Room (2 guests) full board is at Shs987, 500; bed and breakfast is at Shs793, 950 and room only is at 617, 500.

The Presidential Cottage (4 guests) full board is at Shs1, 967, 500; bed and breakfast is at Shs1, 599, 750 and room alone is at Shs1, 378, 550.

Spend A Million

You can win free pony rides for children if you spend Shs1m at Nyanja and Lake Terrace restaurants.

Dad's Day Out

You can take your dad out on Father's Day at Speke Resort and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort. And while there, if you spend Shs450, 000 at Lake Terrace or Nyanja Restaurant, you get complimentary lake shore fishing for the family, complimentary pony rides for the kid on the same day of visiting the resort. You also get complimentary glasses of wine.

Cautious Sudhir Closes Down Hotels As COVID19 Bites Tourism Sector

Businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, the chairman of Ruparelia Group which owns Speke Group of Hotels, has told CEO East Africa Magazine that they will be closing down Speke Resort and Conference Centre and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort due to the effects coronavirus disease (COVID19) has had on the economy, particularly the tourism sector.

The closure of the two five-star hotels in Munyonyo takes effect on Friday 27th March 2020 to until when COVID19 has been thoroughly dealt with.  The businessman said other hotels like Forest Cottages in Naguru and Dolphin Suites in Bugolobi will subsequently follow. Kabira Country Club will partly be closed. 

"It is really bad. We have decided to close Speke Resort and the Commonwealth Resort. We will reopen once corona issue I sorted out. For the others like Kabira Country Club, only a small section will remain open," Sudhir told the CEO in a phone interview.

Under the Speke Group of Hotels, Ruparelia Group boasts of the largest and wealthiest chain of hotels, restaurants and apartments in the country. The group also owns Speke Hotel, Rock Bar & Grill, Speke Apartments Wampewo, Speke Apartments Kitante, La Cabana Restaurant, among others.

The Group recently launched the construction of a five-star Speke Resort and Convention Center in Entebbe.

Lost Jobs

The businessman also revealed that about 3000 workers will at this moment lose their employment. Already, 1000 of the 3000 have been relieved of their duties and another 2000 will follow. Group employees 8000 workers in its hotels' chain.

Already, Ruparelia Group has felt the pangs of COVID19 after they were forced to close Kampala Parents School, Kampala International School Uganda and Victoria University following a presidential directive for the country to close all schools.

Many teachers, administrators, services providers were put out of employment until the situation normalizes.

Impact of COVID19

Uganda, as of 26th March 2020, had confirmed 14 cases with no death but a global death toll of more than 10, 000 people had been recorded. Many countries had issued travel bans to their citizens dealing a big blow to the global economy.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni issued a directive that no passenger flight should be allowed in the country or to leave. He also issued a ban on public transport as the country slowly shuts down in an effort to combat COVID19.

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