UGANDA (eTN) – It was confirmed overnight from impeccable sources that on June 23, an agreement was signed between the new owners and developers of the Shimoni hotel site and Intercontinental Hotel Group to manage the new 5-star facility when it is ready.
In 2006, the site was handed over for next to nothing to Prince Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Hotels to develop a luxury hotel and conference facility in Kampala ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Summit, but the company failed to do much with it after displacing over 1,000 students from the Shimoni Primary School and the trainees of the Shimoni Teachers Training College, all of whom were sent away to permit for a rapid demolition of existing structures. That accomplished, Kingdom Hotels turned silent on their plans, drew heavy criticism for having misled the Ugandan government and public over their abilities and intent, and eventually left in shame, causing additional controversy over the disposal of the site, which eventually ended up in the hands of a Dubai-based consortium.
The soon-to-be-made announcement by Intercontinental Hotels, that they have now signed the long-awaited contract to manage the Shimoni hotel development, will be good news for Uganda, as not only will the hospitality industry get another truly professional and global player into the country – besides the Sheraton Kampala and the Kampala Serena Hotel there are only homegrown stakeholders active in the city and its environs right now, often to the detriment of professional management and in particular professional training regimes – but also for the marketing of Uganda as a conference and tourism destination.
Intercontinental Hotels, the nearest presently located in Nairobi, Kenya, have in the past actively supported destination marketing by tourist boards in African countries where they operate in, and expanded the visibility of a destination through their own sales activities, generating additional conference and tourism business, something Uganda presently really needs.