Con­fer­ences keep ho­tels afloat HAZ

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

CONFERENCING busi­ness is keep­ing ho­tels afloat as leisure travel con­tin­ues to dwin­dle due to the harsh eco­nomic con­di­tions that the coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, the Hospi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion of Zimbabwe (HAZ) said on Tues­day.

HAZ vice pres­i­dent In­no­cent Many­era told New Ziana that con­fer­ences, which are usu­ally held dur­ing the week, now con­trib­ute 80 per­cent of ho­tel busi­ness while leisure travel is de­pressed as do­mes­tic trav­ellers do not have dis­pos­able in­comes.

“Ho­tels are facing a de­cline in leisure travel so as a re­sult we are now con­cen­trat­ing on con­fer­ences. So ho­tels now get busy from Mon­day to Fri­day be­cause of that.

“The trend is that we no longer have week­end guests due to a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, chiefly lack of dis­pos­able in­comes,” he said.

Zimbabwe is facing cash short­ages that have re­sulted in banks dis­abling ac­cess by tourists us­ing in­ter­na­tional credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard to cash with­drawal fa­cil­i­ties di­rectly in banks or through au­to­mated teller ma­chines (ATMs).

Mr Many­era said ho­tel room oc­cu­pancy had re­mained slug­gish at 41 per­cent, up one per­cent on that recorded dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

With Zimbabwe bat­tling to im­prove its eco­nomic per­for­mance, tourism is viewed as one of the sec­tors which is a “low hang­ing fruit” with po­ten­tial to earn the coun­try quick re­turns.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zimbabwe Tourism Au­thor­ity, av­er­age an­nual tourist ex­pen­di­ture is es­ti­mated at $700 mil­lion an­nu­ally. In the first half of this year, the coun­try recorded a 16 per­cent jump in tourist ar­rivals to 450 572.

Au­thor­i­ties are in the process of craft­ing a tourism mas­ter plan that is aimed at ad­dress­ing bot­tle­necks facing the sec­tor to boost ar­rivals to five mil­lion and earn­ing $5 bil­lion per year by 2020.

The Gov­ern­ment re­cently held an “ease of do­ing busi­ness” con­fer­ence for the tourism sec­tor and is soon ex­pected to pro­nounce mea­sures to aid the sec­tor. — New Ziana

Stake­hold­ers fol­low pro­ceed­ings dur­ing the Min­istry of Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment con­sul­ta­tive work­shop at a Bu­l­awayo ho­tel yes­ter­day

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