ZIMBABWE’s hotel occupancy rate increased to 47% in the first quarter of the year, with industry officials attributing the trend to government’s stance on the ease of doing business across all sectors.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In separate interviews with NewsDay, industry officials said government’s engagement with foreign investors had resulted in an increase in bookings.
“In the first quarter of 2018, the average hotel occupancy rate for Bulawayo rose from 29% to 44%. At the national level the average hotel occupancy levels rose from 38% to 47% in the first quarter of 2018,” Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said.
Tourism officials also said the removal of police roadblocks, one of the biggest factors that frustrated travellers and negatively impacted on the Zimbabwe brand, has also been a major boost for the sector.
“Zimbabwe has been fortunate to have experienced an upturn in visitor arrivals over the past year and a quarter, resulting in the first instance from a certain reluctance by international travellers to head to traditional destinations in the northern hemisphere, and secondly the peace dividend that we continue to enjoy,” Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president, Tichaona Hwingwiri, said.
Hwingwiri said the mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ had triggered an increase in arrivals into the country looking for business opportunities, resulting in increased business travellers in the country.
“We have seen immediate benefits in respect of steadily increased numbers of leisure travellers, mainly, but not exclusively to Victoria Falls and also of business travellers predominantly to Harare,” he said.
“It appears that 2018 will be our best tourism year since 1999. The entire travel and tourism sector is gearing itself to coping with increased numbers of visitors through revitalisation of products and services as well as through encouraging greater investment by existing and new operators into the sector.”
Hwingwiri said as ZCT, they shared the genuine excitement and anticipation that exists within the sector and “we are working with all relevant parties to stimulate growth and development, which has an enormous impact on the overall economy.”
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Innocent Manyera added that there was excitement in the occupancies being recorded.
“ZTA is confirming, for the first time, that our figures are comparable to 2009. There is growth in occupancies in the first quarter of the year,” he said.