Kalangala Hotels Cut Prices To Attract Local Tourists

To rejuvenate tourism in the district, some hotel managers have had to cut the costs of accommodation and other services. Kalangala district has 600 guest rooms comprising both small lodges and advanced resorts.
Boats anchored on the submerged beaches of Kingfisher Camping Site in Lutoboka

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Service providers in the hospitality industry in Kalangala district have slashed their costs to attract local tourists. There are over 100 hotels, inns and lodges spread on various islands in Kalangala district.

However, majority of the facilities are on Bugala and Bukasa island to their historical and cultural attractions. Kalangala districts attracts thousands of tourists because of its rich historical and cultural heritage, which includes hosting the royal regalia in Bubembe and Bukasa shrines, the tree species from where the royal mace is moulded.     

The island also hosts Nanziri Waterfalls, Wanema shrine on Bukasa island, the Ssese tree and John Speke cave in Lutoboka forest. Most tourists flock Kalangala for forest walks, bird watching, boat cruises and picnics among other activities.

However, the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, which saw president, Yoweri Museveni announce a nationwide shut down, took a huge toll on the hospitality sector in Kalangala.  

To make matters worse, MV Kalangala ferry, which plies the Kalangala-Entebbe route is grounded because of the ongoing road works at its docking piers at Nakiwogo in Entebbe and Lutoboka in Kalangala. 

MV Kalangala carries at least 100 people and 10 vehicles on each trip.   Private vessels –MV Nathalie and MV Vanessa can carry only 36 passengers because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

This is half of their normal capacity. MV Kalangala would ferry many tourists, both local and foreign to Kalangala at Shillings 10,000 for the general wing and Shillings 14,000 for the executive wing compared to MV Vanessa and MV Nathalie that charge between Shillings 35,000 to 75,000.  

To rejuvenate tourism in the district, some hotel managers have had to cut the costs of accommodation and other services. Kalangala district has 600 guest rooms comprising both small lodges and advanced resorts.

These often cost between Shillings 60,000 and 800,000 for a single and deluxe rooms respectively during the peak season in December. During the off peak season, hotels charge between Shillings 40,000 and Shillings 700,000.

Some of the facilities that have revised their costs include Mirembe Beach Resort, Ssese Islands Beach Hotel and Brovad Sands Lodge on Buggala island. The price cuts are targeting local tourists who travel for mainly business and work reasons.

Tonny Kataate, the Sales Manager Mirembe Beach Resort Hotel, says their prices are flexible and "very negotiable". He says the prices have been cut to a level the hotel can still maintain its quality of accommodation and meals.

A room of Shillings 250,000 is currently going for as low as Shillings 135,000 depending on one’s negotiation capacity. Eric Mukuru, a staff of Brovad Sands Lodge Ssese Islands says since business is still low, the facility has had to half its prices.

For instance, rooms which used to cost US$100 about Shillings 370,000 now costs US $50, which is approximately Shillings 185,000.        

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However, apart from low business, some hotels are also grappling with submerged beaches as a result of increased Lake Victoria water levels. Yucia Abaho, the manager Kingfisher Camping Site on Lutoboka Island, says the hotel with 10 rooms, hardly gets guests nowadays.

The situation is worsened by the fact that the beaches have been under water since January. 

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Daniel Kikoola, the Kalangala Resident District Commissioner, says Kalangala was initially meant to attract tourists who want a peaceful and calm environment.

However, as a compromise, the leisure centers are allowed to hold "wild parties” to meet demands of the district's young population.

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He also says the district needs to have a sketch map of its tourist sites for better development and publicity. Some of the sites such as John Speke cave have been abandoned for several years and may never pick up.

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