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Tourists in Jinja Dismayed by Unprofessional Hotel Staff

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The hotel and hospitality sector in Jinja is being ruined by the influx of unskilled personnel and unprofessional business owners.
This is the complaint of many professional hoteliers in the town, known in the business as the Adventure Capital of East Africa.
Simon Kaita, the Jinja Tourism Officer, says about 70 percent of tourists who come to Uganda visit Jinja. Most of them visit Jinja to see the Source of the Nile or to participate in the numerous activities on the Nile like White Water Rafting and kayaking.
Kaita says that with 56 hotels and guest houses and more than 300 people working in the hospitality sector, Jinja is supposed to be a hub of professionalism. However, it is not. He says 76 of the workers have not received any training for their jobs and are not up to the challenge of hosting visitors to Uganda.
Kaita believes that the hotel sector has continued to lag behind because hotel owners are more interested in making easy money than maintaining professional standards.
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The Tourism Officer says most hotel owners in Jinja are so tight-fisted that they are unwilling to pay market rates to attract professional staff. Skilled hotel workers in Jinja earn in average of 200,000 shillings a month. Those without professional qualifications are paid as little as 40,000 shillings a month.
Samson Ndyaguma says this situation is ironic considering that Jinja is home to Uganda's only national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute.
Ndyaguma, who is the Academic Registrar at the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, blames the lack of professionalism in Jinja's hotels on ignorance. He says hotel owners are unaware that it is not their buildings or facilities that make lasting impressions on visitors, but the professionalism of the staff.
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Richard Nyeko, the administrator at Bilkon Hotel, says hiring trained workers is costly. He contends that it is cheaper, in the long run, to hire unskilled workers because they are more willing to learn and more dynamic than college graduates who have no practical training.
However Solomon Wanyika, who is on holiday from Kenya, says the sacrifice of professionalism for easy money is noticeable and has affected his visit to Uganda. He says that during his short stay in Jinja, he checked in and out of three different hotels, looking for something within his price range that met his needs for good accommodation.

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