Ugandan Lawmakers Call for Enhanced Training to Compete with Kenyan Hospitality Standards

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Members of Parliament (MPs) in a session at Parliament. (File)
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In a heated parliamentary session, Ugandan lawmakers expressed concerns about Kenyans holding top positions in Uganda’s tourism sector. They emphasized the need for the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (UHTTI) to improve its tourism and hospitality training programs to better equip local professionals.

Richard Kawere, the principal of UHTTI, appeared before the Parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities, and State Enterprises (COSASE), chaired by Allan Mayanja (Nakaseke Central), to address issues raised in the June 2023 Auditor General’s report.

During the session, MPs highlighted the disparity in service quality between Uganda and neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Yusuf Nsibambi (Mawokota County South) stated, “We have the capacity to train our youth, yet we are still employing managers and chefs from Kenya.” He suggested benchmarking with regional hotels and tourism service providers to improve Uganda’s curriculum.

Kawere acknowledged these concerns, explaining that UHTTI is working to enhance its curriculum and strengthen collaboration with regional institutions. He mentioned a recent visit to Kenya Utalii College (KUC) to plan joint initiatives. However, Charles Bakkabulindi (Workers MP) argued that grassroots workers, not just top management, should benefit from benchmarking.

Kawere emphasized the importance of structured learning, stating, “Management must first interact to establish a structure. Once institutions collaborate, exchange programs for students and staff can be implemented.” He announced plans for an in-service program to train untrained hotel workers at the institute.

UHTTI has also integrated attitude training into its curriculum and is in discussions with industry players to improve service standards collectively. Additionally, a new department under the principal’s office is focused on international partnerships. In September, two experts from Belgium will join UHTTI under the Enabel arrangements.

Chairperson Mayanja expressed optimism, noting that Uganda has the potential to improve attitudes and place local youth in positions currently occupied by Kenyans. He stated, “If we guide this entity to provide better skills, we can compete favorably and out-compete foreigners. We will make recommendations to parliament to help UHTTI improve.”

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