Conferences keep hotels afloat HAZ
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