Uganda short of hotels, as tourists decry lack of direct flights

Two years since Uganda launched its drive to be a regional tourism hub, the results are overwhelming the sector, which can’t ably accommodate the growing numbers.

The strategy that runs from 2016 to 2020 targets a growth from 1.4 million to 4 million visitors per year by 2020, doubling earnings to 2.8 billion dollars.

In 2018 the country received close to 2 million visitors, and this number is expected to grow by another 1 million this year.

But this is posing a shortage of facilities especially high-end accommodation to the Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Lilly Ajarova.

However, Chinese tourists hoping to come to Uganda find the country more expensive than many others like Kenya and European countries, according to Preferred Hospitality Group, a company marketing Uganda in Asia.

Catherine Mei, the Sales Director for the company in China the expensive facilities like accommodation, makes it hard for tour operators to create attractive products.

About 500,000 Chinese tourists visit Africa every year.

Mei says Uganda misses out on these numbers because of the lack of direct flights between the two countries.
‘Travelers want to travel directly from their country to the destination. I hope when Uganda airlines starts, it will make this easy’, she says.

Uganda Tourism Board Chairman Daudi Migereko said already China is one of the international routes that will be given first priority by Uganda Airlines.

He however says there are still easier options for Chinese coming to Uganda, including flying from Chinese cities by Ethiopian Airlines through Addia Ababa ot by Kenya Airways through Nairobi, to Entebbe