By Enacy Mapakame
Hospitality group, Meikles Limited, intends to expand its Victoria Falls Hotel in the resort town as it positions itself to capitalise on the anticipated boon in the tourism sector driven by the expected economic growth.
The group is also embarking on massive refurbishment of the hotel and its other properties across the country.
This comes as both the Victoria Falls Hotel and Meikles Hotel have enjoyed growth in occupancy during the first few months of the new financial year.
“A refurbishment programme for the Victoria Falls Hotel will commence before the end of 2018. However, of greater significance is a project to enlarge the hotel with additional accommodation which is currently in the initial stages of planning and implementation which need to be expedited,” said executive chairman John Moxon in a statement accompanying the group’s financial results for the year to March 30, 2018.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is on a major rebound buoyed by a change in Government policy that has helped to market the country as safe investment destination. This has resulted in many tourists also visiting the country as buttressed by hotels that have recorded bookings until the end of the year.
The group, however, closed its Mega Market and ‘M’ stores, partly in the later months of the year and partly in the early months of the current financial year. At an EBITDA loss of $4,2 million, the segment was badly affected throughout the year by the absence of funds to the group from Government, a position which was still prevalent in the early months of the current financial year.
“In this context, a renovation of Barbours will be a priority,” said Mr Moxon. The Barbours refurbishment project is expected to be completed in this financial year.
According to Mr Moxon, the other stores are expected to adopt the same merchandising methodology as Barbours, but physical renovations will coincide with the redevelopment of the group real estate properties in which retail will be located alongside other tenants. The group also anticipates to capitalise on the commercial retail properties that are well positioned across major cities.
Mr Moxon said the properties were being analysed for redevelopment along a similar concept to that achieved at the Village Walk in Borrowdale.
“It is anticipated that these projects, when completed will generate substantial rental revenue for the group,” he said.