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UTB CEO, Lilly Ajarova, tips hotel owners on opportunities in tourism

By An Executive Editor

Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Lilly Ajarova, has tipped hotel owners on the opportunities in the sector.

Hotel owners under their umbrella body, Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) were meeting at Protea Hotel in Kampala when Ajarova said that as “as the people who are going out to the market (and this is not just only the International markets, we engage with the domestic market, we engage with the regional markets, we engage with the international global market), there is a huge opportunity for us.”

“What is coming out very clearly is that Uganda has been very unknown for a very long time and we are getting to be known and this is an opportunity we should ride on. The market is looking for new destinations. And we are a new destination for the market. So, we need to be aware of the opportunities that we have.

The opportunity to invest more. Yes, we have statistics of roughly how many accommodation facilities we have in this country. In the recent past, we have actually felt overwhelmed when we get big number of visitors coming into this country,” Ajarova said.

According to Ajarova, the limitation in accommodation was first experienced in 2019.

“A case in point was in 2019 when we had a load full of passengers in one of the aircrafts from Tel Aviv to Entebbe. 250 tourists. In Entebbe-Kampala. We could easily accommodate them. But taking them outside the city was a problem because of accommodation limitations. We had to split them into different groups to be able to move around the country. So, there is more opportunity for investments. So, as we promote the country and market it better, as it gets to be known, we need more investments. You are the investors and we call upon you to continue investing more in tourism,” Ajarova noted.

She emphasized the need to understand the market.

“As we make the investments, as well we need to understand what the market is demanding for. One of the key things I would like to inform you about and specifically to you as the investors in accommodation facilities or in tourism generally, the market is looking for sustainability operations or products. We need to be cognizant of this need to be able to attract visitors to come here to consume your products and your services, you need to be able to afford what the market is looking for,”

Besides marketing Uganda for leisure, Ajarova says “we are also getting to position Uganda for business tourism.”

“We are trying to position Uganda for MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conferences and Events) and if you remember from the media communication. In 2018, we established the Uganda Convention and we started pushing Uganda for business tourism and that helped us in 2018 to actually host more international meetings and conferences which moved us from whatever position we were completely unknown to be the 10th best destination for MICE in Africa. In 2019, we did even more and we moved up to the position of being the 6th best MICE destination in Africa. So, this is another opportunity,” Ajarova says.

Ajarova reminded the hotel owners that “as the investors and hotel owners, when we need more meeting rooms, we need the equipment for meetings and this is an area we really need to understand and position ourselves accordingly.”

She called for better and quality services “so as to encourage people to consume our products and services whether domestically or internationally.”

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