Friday, 10th November, 2006
YESTERDAY President Yoweri Museveni and his highness the Aga Khan officially opened the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Taken over by the Serena Hotels last year, the hotel -- previously the Nile Hotel, has undergone a $30m face lift that has elevated it to five-star status. The hotelís room capacity was more than doubled to 152 from the original 65 rooms during the process.
Prior to its 17-month renovation the Serena group paid $1.5m upfront to secure a 30-year concession and will pay government 4% of gross income a year for the duration of the concession.
This is big money we are talking about but the benefits to the country go well beyond the revenues government has got and will get from the hotel.
To begin with Uganda will tap into the worldwide network of the Serena Hotels. Visitors new to Uganda but who have experienced Serenaís hospitality elsewhere will feel more inclined to visit the country knowing they can count on the hotel.
One should not underestimate the impact Serenaís brand can have on a country that has invested next to nothing in a coherent marketing strategy.
Secondly, other investors will be looking to see whether the investment is successful and if it is we may begin to attract other multi-million dollar investments.
Our planners now need to work out how to leverage Serenaís presence in Uganda by improving road networks, accommodation and social services.
The hotelís unique architecture and landscaping is bound to be a Kampala landmark for years to come and may very well turn out to be the trigger needed to launch Ugandaís latent tourism potential.
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