My Qualifing Project

September 23, 2009

During training we have been developing our QP and here is the text to my project which I delivered on Tuesday.

Qualifying Project: Uganda Hotel and Restaurant Association

Introduction: Uganda is full of thousands of towns with millions of residents who work hard to provide for themselves and their families. A portion of those hard working residents own and operate hotels and restaurants, and they facilitate a majority of Uganda’s 632 million US Dollar Tourism Industry, which exposes over 800,000 visitors a year to Uganda’s natural beauty and unique experiences. With the demographics of Uganda shifting and major markets yet to be tapped into, the potential growth and revenue that awaits Uganda’s hotel and restaurant industry presents a need for organization and sustainability. The hotel and restaurant industries are the cornerstones of the communities in which they operate, from employing youth to purchasing locally grown produce, communities thrive when hotels and restaurants succeed.

Preferred Future Vision: The Future Vision of the Uganda Hotel and Restaurant Association is to create a network for hotel and restaurant professionals where they are empowered to work together to address current and future issues, create advocacy and awareness for the hotel and restaurant industries, and educate our members and communities in sustainable tourism. UHRA will promote dining out, encourage hotel and restaurant careers, publicize the industry’s commitment to food safety, and highlight the restaurant industry’s impact on the economy and local communities. Mission Statement: We exist to help our members — the cornerstone of their communities — to build customer loyalty, rewarding careers, and sustainable financial success through providing educational and networking opportunities, teaching sustainable tourism, and involving the local communities

Project Design: The goals for the association are: 1. Create networking opportunities for members 2. Offer support and programs for members to grow their businesses 3. To create national goals and representation for the hotel and restaurant industries 4. Educate and encourage members and communities about sustainable tourism 5. For the association to become sustainable both financially independent, with strategic industry partners, and to be 100% Ugandan run within 2 years of founding

The objectives for the association are: 1. To conduct monthly regional networking and educational meetings for our members 2. To create councils around industry issues to debate positions and create solutions 3. Conduct industry research and provide regionalized trend reports for our members 4. Create community based education through educational sessions regarding sustainable tourism of community assets and attractions. 5. Create programs to serve the industry (i.e. International Worker Programs, Youth Councils, Youth At Risk….etc)

Action Plan: The first chapter of the association will be started in Fort Portal compromising of local hotel and restaurant owners and operators. The association will seek to partner with companies who wish to further their industry, increase visibility among their potential customers, and assist and invest in the sustainability of tourism in Uganda. Potential companies include: SAB Miller, Nile Breweries, Star Coffee, and Kinyara Sugar. Their relationship would be key to providing and sponsoring the monthly educational meetings. During the meetings new members will be recruited, educational sessions will be taught, and members will be provided with resources. Members will vote for an executive committee which will coordinate meetings, educational sessions, programming, membership, advocacy, awareness, and sustainable tourism strategy. Members would be charged a annual membership fee to offset costs and to provide a base of funding. Within three years of founding, an expansion program including Jinja and Kampala will be constructed and carried out. The program will have the intention of uniting Uganda’s hotel and restaurant industry towards having one vision. That vision will be leading the industries into a new era of prosperity, prominence, and participation, enhancing the lives of everybody we serve.

Action: The association will be started with involving key members of the local community and getting the endorsement of the LC1.After creating a foundation of members who have formed boards, started community education, and moved industry positions forward, the association will then start to conduct research of market and trend development to help our members make strategic decisions to improve their financial position.

Monitoring: An internal board will be formed to assess the leadership and programming to make sure that both adhere to the mission statement and are working with the hotel and restaurant industry to move forward will all interests being represented. A partnership with the International Hotel and Restaurant Association will also be an external monitoring tool as they will act as a development consulting and monitoring partner for the UHRA.

Reporting Procedures: There will be monthly leadership and council meetings to both create programming and to evaluate the effectiveness of the association. Monthly reports will also be submitted to the International Hotel and Restaurant Association for review and evaluation.

End Thoughts: The hotel and restaurant industries in Uganda are as, if not more prone to failure as in the United States. The restaurant closure rate in the US is over 50% within the first year of operation where hotels are around 20%, and those numbers jump considerably higher over the next few years of operation. But in the US the main reason for closing is not that people are not making any money. If operators are not making a specific percentage or meeting quotas, they feel that they can make more money elsewhere. Or if they have cash flow issues they can just declare chapter 11 bankruptcy. In Uganda, the definition of “making money” and success are completely different. If they aren’t making money that means that their family might not eat that night, or school fees don’t get paid. This is why there needs to be resources available to the everyday Ugandan operating a hotel or restaurant. Teaching simple bookkeeping skills, financial planning, and forecasting can turn a bleak operating future into a successful venture. Both industries are dependent upon the natural resources in Uganda. Their continued success, their sustainability, is dependent on the quality of how those resources are preserved and maintained. If those who are dependent are educated in sustainable tourism and the role they play, then less degradation to the environment will occur and their businesses will continue to provide a sustainable income. I feel an association such as the UHRA can make a difference not only in the lives of their members but of every stakeholder in the communities in which they operate.

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