Tourism and hospitality operators have until January next year to register their facilities, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the quality assurance training in Kampala, Ms Lily Ajarova, the UTB chief executive officer, said Uganda’s tourism and hospitality facilities continue to rank below global standards, noting that there is need for proper licensing to protect both the industry and other stakeholders such as tourists.
Therefore, she noted, operators have until January next year to register or risk legal action.
“You have been in business for years and are not registered with UTB, never been inspected and without a license. That is an illegal business, according to the law,” she said, noting that there is need for all tourism value chain businesses to adhere to international standards as well as create a system that has the capacity to trace back a complaint.
“If anything goes wrong with a client, we must be sure to trace its origin. All facilities must be in our database by January 1, 2023,” Ms Ajarova said.
Uganda tourism sector, according to UTB, has more than 3,879 accommodation facilities, 1,111 tour and travel operators and 937 tour guides.
The licensing also seeks, UTB says, to ensure safety of tourism clients and promotion of sanity in the industry.
The World Tourism & Travel Council 2019 report ranked Uganda 139th out of 141 survey countries, a ranking that reflects poorly on one of the country’s largest foreign exchange earners.
UTB, Ms Ajarova said, is working with local government authorities across the country to see that the registration and licensing exercise is adhered to.
The quality assurance training organized by UTB, seeks to enlighten local government officials, especially those in the tourism value chain, health inspectors and commercial officers to pay attention to tourism regulation with the view of making Uganda’s tourism sector competitive at the global level.
Government has been working on a number of initiatives that seek to brand Uganda as a regional tourism hub.
According to Ms Ruth Gyayo, the Ministry of Local Government principal inspector, the licensing will pay attention to a number of things, among which include the standard of rooms, toilets and provisions for people with disability, among others.
“There are people who are disabled [but] they fail to use these facilities. Somebody want to go into the conference room but fail because there are no provisions for the disabled people,” she said.