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Kitgum Hotels Suffer Worst Losses in Years

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The hotel and hospitality sector in Kitgum district is suffering its worst slump in years.



Since the return of peace to northern Uganda, hundreds of non-governmental organizations and humanitarian agencies that worked in the region have left Kitgum. Big hotels, lodges and inns that enjoyed the patronage of these organizations are now empty. Only a few of them manage to attract visitors to the district and with mounting losses many businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy.



Cornerstone Guesthouse, New Home Accommodation, Pick A Room Lodge and Northern Visitors' Lodge have closed shop. For several months they barely had customers and could not afford the cost of hiring premises with no traffic at all.



Cissy Atim, manager of JC Inn located in Kitgum town, says she too is considering suspending business for a while. She says there are weeks when she has no customers at all, but is still required to pay tax to the district and Uganda Revenue Authority.



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The owners of Timbo Hotel located at Apollo Grounds in Kitgum are in a similar situation. Justin Omona, the hotel manager, says that while his room occupancy is better than other hotels, it is not as high as it was at the peak of the insurgency.



This week only seven of the 19 rooms at Timbo Hotel were occupied.



Omona says attracting new visitors to the hotel is the major challenge he faces this financial year.



The slump in Kitgum's hospitality sector has left many people unemployed.



Josephine Apio, formerly employed by Pick A Room Lodge, says that since she was laid off, she hasn't managed to get another job. She says she is struggling to feed her four-year-old daughter and to pay her bills.



Lillian Akech, another unemployed hotel worker, says she depends on handouts to care for herself and her siblings.



The problems of the Kitgum hotel and hospitality sector are not issues within the ongoing election campaigns. The district administration does not appear to have a clear policy for revival of the sector or plans to attract tourists and new visitors to Kitgum.

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