Renowned global brands in the tourism industry have lined up an estimated US$20 million projects for Zimbabwe that should increase room capacity by over 1 000 in Harare, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo as investor appetite continues to grow.
The model of development for the projects will include conversion of existing infrastructure to hospitality facilities as well as development of new infrastructure.
This comes as Zimbabwe has low hotel stock, lower than what is available in Sandton, Johannesburg, alone.
South African tourism consultancy firm, HTI Consulting’s chief executive officer Waynne Troughton said Zimbabwe has generated a lot of interest from global investors in the tourism industry.
These are looking at the country’s three main international destinations – Harare, driven by its large corporate and Government market, while Bulawayo and Victoria Falls are seen as industrial and leisure hubs respectively.
All things being equal, Victoria Falls will have an additional 200 rooms from boutique hotels with a luxury positioning while in Harare an estimated 500 rooms are expected to enter the market with a primarily midscale positioning.
Bulawayo is expected to have an additional 400 rooms geared towards the corporate market.
Currently, Harare has 1 628 room capacity while Victoria Falls has 1 128 rooms with Bulawayo at 370 rooms. Mr Troughton said the global hospitality giants, among them the Protea Hotels, One and Only Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, TAj, Four Seasons and Bon Hotels have expressed interest in the country for new projects or conversion of already existing buildings into hotels.
The success of the projects is however hinged on stability of the macro-economic environment.
“Sentiment has been very positive, a lot of interest was generated especially last year. Arrivals also increased last year. While there have been currency changes, I don’t think the sentiment has changed yet, we are just waiting to see how it goes before investors press the final button,” he told The Herald Business yesterday on the sidelines of the ZimReal Property Investment Forum in Harare.
“This is just going to change the time-line as investors observe the situation with the currency issues because it is going to have an impact on development for instance the importation of materials.
“Zimbabwe has always had significant investor interest, basically it has all it takes for a quick turn around but there has been a lot of speculation on political issues,” he said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief operating officer Givemore Chidzidzi said Zimbabwe was lagging behind in terms of tourism infrastructure giving scope for real estate investors to tap into the market given the vast existing opportunities.
He said, arrivals in the country have been increasing and therefore needed corresponding growth in accommodation facilities.
Apart from natural tourist destinations such the Victoria Falls as well as heritage cites, real estate facilities can also be a source of tourism attraction.
Mr Chidzidzi cited church buildings in Europe as well as skyscrapers in cities like Dubai which Zimbabwe could draw inspiration from.
The sector, he said, is guided by five As, that is access, attraction, accommodation, activities and amenities.
“When visitors come to see available attractions, they need accommodation and this is an area we are lagging behind. We have a low stock of hotels.
“There are a lot of activities but after that visitors need accommodation, we do not have enough rooms. Take for instance during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) week, people struggle to get accommodation.
“This is an opportunity for the real estate sector to penetrate the market,” he said.
In total, Zimbabwe has 6 483 room capacity and 12 772 beds. We have fewer than those in Sandton alone” said Mr Chidzidzi.
In Las Vegas, Aria Hotel has over 4 000 rooms, which is over half of the whole of Zimbabwe’s room capacity.