By DailyNewsUG Business Correspondent
DAILYNEWS UG |SESE, ENTEBBE| – City tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has kicked off 2019 by unveiling a luxurious Ssese Gateway Beach Hotel in Entebbe.
The beach sits on over 15 acres at Abayita Ababiri, Entebbe-Kampala Rd, in the outskirts of Entebbe town.
The magnificent beach hotel will join the Ruparelia Group Hotels as the latest 2019 business project.
The Ruparelia Group will soon kick start the construction of Ssese Gateway Beach Hotel, a multibillion five-star hotel.
The tourism sector is targeting to hit the four million tourists mark by 2020.
The Ruperalia Group chairman, Mr Sudhir Ruparelia, will in July start the construction of the establishment that will have hotel rooms, conference and conversion centres at Katinda, on Kampala-Entebbe Road, about 30km from the capital.
The hotel with at least 350 rooms, will be constructed in a period of three years.
When contacted last evening, Mr Ruparelia explained that the new five-star hotel and other facilities will sit on a 20- acre land and that it will be a state-of-the art in the area to give Ugandans and foreigners a new option in the areas of accommodation, meals and beverages, conferences and meetings.
“Our plan is to construct a five-star hotel in Entebbe area to boost the country’s tourism sector and create more jobs for Ugandans. We want to give Ugandans and visitors something new and contribute to national development,” Mr Ruparelia said.
The businessman is also completing Kampala Kingdom Hotel, a $10m (Shs36b) facility in Kampala.
The State Minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, told Daily Monitor last evening that government welcomes the new development because once completed, the hotel will contribute to the global competitiveness of destination Uganda.
“We are receiving this news with a lot of excitement because the hotel will put higher our capacity to host more visitors and making destination Uganda more competitive. Having more of such hotels will put Uganda’s tourism at a higher level in the region,” Mr Kiwanda said.
The minister, who said the country needs more hotel rooms to be able to cause the reduction in the cost of accommodation, encouraged the Ruparelia Group to make partnerships with international hotel brands so that its gates will be opened to more visitors.
“We also need international brands to set up here and this can be achieved through partnerships. We wish Mr Ruparelia partners with brands like Marriot and Hilton because this comes with more visitors and opportunities,” the minister said.
Ms Kelley MacTavish, the founder of All About Uganda, a tourism company that runs the Pearl of Africa Safaris, said such a facility will help Uganda compete with Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to host top notch international events like award galas.
“…Once [a] country like Uganda has more accommodation and convention facilities that meet international standards, then big opportunities will come. Uganda has always lost out as big award shows on the continent are held in Nairobi, Johannesburg and Nigerian cities,” Ms Kelly said.
The Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA) has also welcomed the development.
Ms Jean Byamugisha, the UHOA executive director, said Uganda currently has about 400,000 hotel rooms irrespective of different classification of hotels and to out-compete other tourism destinations, the country needs to have at least one million rooms spread both major towns.
Mr Sudir acquired the site from Ssese Gateway Beach three years ago and has since fenced it to prepare for construction. Daily Monitor couldn’t establish the original owner of the facility and how much the businessman paid to get it.
Currently operating as Ssese Gateway Beach, the site has motorised boats for hire. Other hotels owned by Sudhir include Kabira Country Club, Speke Hotel, Speke Apartments, Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, Dolphins Suites, Forest Cottages, and Speke Resort Bujjagali Falls.
Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia is East Africa and Uganda’s richest businessman and property magnate. He is also the Chairman of the Ruparelia Group, that has vast investments in real estate, hotels and tourism, insurance, education and media.