The shortage of hotel rooms coupled with low quality of accommodation could hold back the growth of the country’s budding tourism sector, according to industry experts.
The hospitality business, which is the backbone of the tourism industry is currently facing a deficit of 6,000 rooms to accommodate the growing influx of tourists, has triggered a rise in the construction of hotels that do not meet international standards.
Rwanda has 3,552 hotel rooms, according to available statistics.
“The real gap is lack of accommodation at a level of quality that the sector demands,” Tim Shirk, a Consultant with Tourism chamber told Business Times.
Shirk noted that the shortage is enticing investors, who turn residential houses into guest houses, in anticipation of quick money from the increasing demand of hotel rooms.
“If people make decisions into making bigger investments by investing with other people to build good standard hotels would be the right solution to the shortage,” he said
Rwanda is witnessing surge in meetings, incentives, conventions, events (MICE) tourism segment, which has helped the entire sector to stay afloat.
Ed Fuller, President and Managing Director of Marriot Lodging International—which owns Marriot Hotel Kigali— says that in order to bridge the shortfall, the country may need an investment outlay of nearly US$275m (Rwf163.b) in hotel construction.
The S$55m five star Marriot Hotel, which is set to open next year, is expected to trim the deficit by 254 rooms.
Denis Karera, the Chairman Rwanda Hotels and Restaurants Association said that there is need to study the performance aspect properly to propel the sectors ability to provide quality accommodation that will attract customers.
“Now that we are better organised we need to zoom where the problem is and provide solutions,” he said, adding that the association will be able to scrutinize players in the sector to ensure that standards are met.
Karera notes that Rwf368m has been budgeted to help the association carry out its activities to overhaul the sector’s performance through capacity building, advocacy, and training of staff in member hotels.
Lisa Martilotta, the director of Akilah Institute for Women believes that channelling resources from the public and private sector to training institutes will help provide professional personnel to the hotel sector.
“Hotel owners need to know that it is important to invest in their employees”, she said adding that many employers tend to invest heavily in infrastructure and forget to provide attractive packages for
employees which slows down their performance.