UGANDA, Gulu | Real Muloodi News | The number of hotels in Gulu City has increased by 23.3% due to the return of peace in Northern Uganda, according to a survey conducted by Gulu City Council.
As of October 2022, Gulu had 534 hotels, up from 125 in 2005. The survey also revealed that most of the hotels are now owned by foreigners, mainly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis.
The popular hotels, Abyssinia Bar and Lodge, Classic Ethiopia Lodge and Bar, KSP Hotel, JoJo Palace Annex, New Sun Set, New Florida Hotel, Hotel Mwoka and Zam Zam Hotel, were previously owned by locals but have since been rented out to foreign investors.
Gulu City’s principal commercial officer, Nixon Komakech Atemo, revealed that most of the foreign-owned hotels were rented out by indigenous owners, whose businesses collapsed due to loans and high fines for not paying taxes.
Aligech Lapir, a businessman in Gulu City, believes that foreign investors have shown expertise in the hospitality business, outcompeting the indigenous ones.
He added that some foreign investors bring in large capital to renovate and upgrade these hotels to become high-end hotels.
The influx of foreign-owned hotels has not been without its challenges.
In October 2022, the UPDF 4th Division Commander, Brig Bonny Bamwiseki, ordered the security in Gulu City to conduct an immediate vetting of all foreign nationals and non-residents operating in the city and arrest those without documents due to security threats.
However, Komakech asserts that most foreign nationals operating in the hotel business in Gulu have work permits.
Meanwhile, Francis Mawa, the chairperson of the Gulu City Hotel Owners Association, says most foreign-owned hotels have failed to follow the security measures laid down by the association.
The rise in foreign-owned hotels is expected to bring in more tourists to Gulu City, boosting the economy of the area.
However, with the growth of foreign-owned hotels comes the risk of local hotel owners being squeezed out of the market.
The government should strike a balance between encouraging foreign investment and protecting the interests of the local people.
“Upon relying that their numbers outweigh us and they are the majority, they are not loyal to us now and usually don’t come for hoteliers meetings every time we call them,” Mr Mawa says.
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