Meet Johannes Odhiambo General Manager, Ciala Resort
Thursday, January 21st, 2021
What inspired you to join the industry?
I joined the industry in 1991 after completing training at the Kenya Utalii College.
I’ve always loved the feel of taking care of people and the service industry felt like the closest career in which I could do just that.
I worked at Sarova group of hotels for 12 years starting as a management trainee at Sarova White sands then went to Sarova Lion Hill where I worked as a departmental head then to Shaba as the lodge manager.
I kept on rising through the ranks as a result of determination, hardwork as well as the opportunities that the hotel gave us.
They had great programmes that actually allowed management development. After that I moved to Uganda in 2003 and came back to Kenya in 2013.
From your ugandan experience, how different is it from Kenya?
Ugandan tourism is more domestic. The overreliance of international tourists is not there. And this is what has sustained them even during this period of the pandemic.
I remember during my days there, there was the Gulf War in 1990 and terrorist activities affected tourism alot in many African destinations, but Uganda was intact.
They have also made the places affordable and have customised their products to suit the locals.
For instance, their local food is served in all hotels. For us, when we try to have that, you can almost feel resistance in the action. It’s like doing something against the norm.
With a little change of attitude and opening up to accept local tourists, we will be able to tap into that market.
We need to make our products and services more affordable for them too.
What experiences should visitors to Ciala resort expect?
Apart from the facilities that we have here at the resort like the swimming pool area, the bar, and sumptuous meals, we have a tour package that allows one to explore Kisumu region.
We have the Dunga beach experience, the tour around the town, we also take nature lovers on hikes at the Maragoli hills, the renowed Kit-Mikayi and Abindu caves too.
What has changed so far in your 30 years experience in the hospitality sector?
A lot of factors have affected tourism that sometimes are beyond our control. For instance, the political instability both here and abroad. Also economically, things have changed.
In the past, going to a hotel facility was common since food was cheaper then than it is now.