Metropole Hotel CEO Mr Nara Krish has requested government for one year tax waiver. He says would enable the hospitality sector revive businesses.
He argues that the grace period will enable struggling Metropole Hotel and others to improve revenue generation and capacity to pay taxes.
“Our humble appeal to government is to exempt us from paying taxes for at least one year. Most hotels are struggling after covid lockdown and we do not have immediate money to pay taxes,” Nara said.
Nara made the appeal at the grand opening session and blood donation drive as part of Metropole Hotel corporate social responsibility event.
Nara asked Uganda Tourism Board to extend grading and certification of hotels. He says it needs more time because hotels have to invest into rehabilitation after one year out of business.
UTB embarked on classification of hotels in a bid to improve standards in the hospitality industry. This will enable them to compete favourably in the global tourism market.
Most classifications take into account the quality of the infrastructure, which is more easily quantifiable. However, they overlook the quality of service that is more subjective to measure but critical to the quality of hotels.
Some hotel ratings are now questionable over the years. That is why government, through UTB, plays a watchdog role to grade and classify as part of its mandate to regulate both the travel and tour businesses.
The quality assurance manager of UTB, Samoramachell Semakula, also says classification addresses some of the existing gaps in the services that the hospitality sector offers.
“It assures the clientele of high standards of services as well as acting as a marketing and promotional tool.”
According to the Uganda Tourism Association CEO, Richard Kawere, if a facility has a star, it eases its marketing. This will provide guests with the right information about the establishment, thereby reducing disappointments. As a result, the hotel industry flourishes. This will lead to guest satisfaction, repeat business, referrals and customer loyalty, among others.
“In a bid to raise standards in the hospitality industry and compete favourably in the region, it is likely that some hotels will fall short of expectations and lose their ratings. Others might maintain and some may redeem their status.”
He urged hoteliers to subscribe for licences which will guarantee inspection and classification.
“Hoteliers are required to pay Shs300,000. Shs200,000 is for registration and the Shs100,000 is for the annual licence fee. The money goes to the government consolidated fund. It will also support the training of hotel assessors and the inspection of accommodation facilities,” says Semakula.
UTB Director, Lilly Ajarova, says the skills acquired from the training will enable trainees improve the standards of hotels and restaurants in the region. It will also boost the management of the classification and grading process.
“The training will enable the team to understand the classification assessment techniques applicable in the EAC region. The trainees will learn how to assign the star rating methodology and the professional code of conduct while undertaking classification assessment,” she adds.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics says there are more than 6,000 accommodation facilities. A majority of which are not graded and classified.”
What the tourism stakeholders say;
Mark Kirya, the president of Hotel General Managers Association Uganda (HOGMAU), says classification and assessment exercise is timely and will improve sales of hotels in the region.
“It identifies facilities and categorises them into star-ratings. It gives the national, regional and international clients a better understanding of the select accommodation facilities that befits their service requirement levels and budgeting.”
Jean Byamugisha of Uganda Hotel Owners Asdociation says the exercise will put an end to the debate about comparisons of star rating of hotels in Uganda, EAC region and international market to a halt, since the previous classification is outdated.
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