By Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
THE tourism and hospitality industry recorded mixed fortunes over the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays with resort hotels’ occupancy averaging between 51 percent and 81 percent in most areas.
However, there was characteristically low occupancy in city hotels as people went to their rural areas and resort towns for the holidays.
Victoria Falls topped with an average occupancy rate of around 81 percent while city hotels had below 50 percent occupancy.
In an interview, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Innocent Manyera said fuel shortages leading up to the holidays affected planning.
“It looks like city hotels were averaging less than 50 percent while resorts such as Kariba, Nyanga and Victoria Falls among others being above 50 percent occupancy,” he said.
“Victoria Falls always takes the lead, but for city hotels things have been a bit low. Even for resort areas things were low compared to last year, maybe because of issues to do with fuel supply and the general high prices.”
Tourism players in Kariba reported improved business during the holidays, but said traffic and activity was low compared to last year.
Package planner Mr Cephas Shonhiwa said houseboats were popular with tourists despite being beyond the reach of most local visitors.
“There was increased activity in the resort town of Kariba during the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays with most houseboats fully booked. However, the bulk of people who came for the houseboats were from outside the country,” he said. A houseboat costs between US$80 and US$350 per night .
Other players said there was a major problem with the exchange rate as most of the services were now being quoted in United States dollars.
“There is a disturbing trend where domestic tourists who visit resorts totally believing that the Zim dollar is the only legal tender, after the banning of the multi-currency regime, but are shocked to be charged fuel exclusively in US dollars.
“Some operators (names withheld) are dealing exclusively in foreign currency. Such market distortions are a cause for concern among tourists.
“The travelling public needs to be aware of such distortions,” said an operator who preferred anonymity.