Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
PLAYERS in the hospitality industry have started counting their losses after the three-day protests that ended on Wednesday severely affected their businesses.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe vice-chairperson Mr Clive Chinwada said most hotels in the Eastern Highlands recorded numerous cancellations as their clients failed to travel to the various destinations as planned.
He said the impact of the violent protests would continue to be felt in days or weeks to come.
Mr Chinwada said although the industry was still collating information on the exact amount lost by hoteliers due to such cancellations, figures ran into thousands of United States dollars.
“As an industry we experienced massive cancellations as travellers could not move given that our source markets are outside our geographical confines and most of our clients are from Harare. The losses incurred run into tens of thousands of United States dollars,” he said.
Mr Chinwada said occupancy rates dropped from 100 percent to 50 percent and below for some players.
“As a result, the effects will be felt beyond this week. You will note that for business travellers, movement is preceded by a lot of planning. Given that most offices were closed, travel next week and the week after might also suffer. There is still a lot of uncertainty. Safety and security is a key consideration for travellers and organisations just cancel or postpone an activity if they are not sure that they are secure,” said Mr Chinwada.
Women in Tourism Manicaland chapter chairperson Ms Rumbidzai Munhuwani said most stakeholders had been set back by the protests.
“Those that had booked their flights and accommodation for travel either for leisure or business cancelled due to the stayaway which started on Monday and to date some are still holding back,” she said.
“My travel agency business was affected because we could not access the global distribution system to book airline tickets. We lost approximately US$1 200 over four days. As a result, students who were also planning to travel to various countries were delayed due to our lack of access to the nternet.”
She said some small players might face challenges in paying their employee’s salaries at the end of the month due to the losses incurred.
Ms Munhuwani called on Government to ensure that such unlawful activities do not continue to occur as they tarnished the image of the country in the eyes of potential investors and visitors.
“Tourism is all about us branding the country and when such negative activities take place, it not only impacts on the perceptions and a lack of confidence in Zimbabwe as a must visit destination for tourists.
“We pray we continue in the spirit of peace as we protect our business and look at ways to put our message across without resorting to destructive means,” she said.