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Christmas windfall for businesses

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While most businesses rounded up their operations last Friday and closed shop for the Christmas festivities, hotels and supermarkets have taken advantage of the holiday period to increase their earnings this year.

Reports from hotels and supermarkets were that business was better this year than last year as the economy has dramatically improved.

In an interview with NewsDay, owner of Glen Lodge and Glen Tours, Beauty Bhulu, said business was far better this year than last year.

“There is a difference and there is a lot of business this year. We have a lot of locals doing business with us, especially people from Harare and some churches,” she said.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has over the years reported local tourism was growing fast and could soon be the backbone of the local tourism industry.
Owner of the Fort Group of Hotels and chain of supermarkets, Ernest Marima, said business had improved this Christmas because, even though the economy was still not liquid enough, Zimbabweans had been using foreign currency for a longer time now.

“It has improved a bit. There are more people earning foreign currency now than they were last year,” he said.

Economists attributed the stabilisation of the economy to the introduction of the multi-currency system.
Marima said business had improved at both the hotels and the retail section.

“Even the fuel business has improved. It’s only that our market share is smaller. You need to go and stand outside these bigger supermarkets and observe how business is roaring,” he said.

A marketing employee at Meikles Hotel, touted as the country’s best hotel, said they had been busier this year than last year.

“In terms of accommodation and conferencing we were busier, although I am not sure why,” she said.
She said the hotel had come up with some special products for the festive season.

Economist Eric Bloch noted that in general the year had been a mixture of good and bad for the business community in the country.

“There was a little bit of good and a lot of bad. There were good improvements in agriculture and in mining. The bad is that although we saw recovery in the first six months, that disappeared as it shrunk in the rest of the year,” he said.

Bloch attributed this to the poor performance of the money market and laws such as the Indigenisation Act, which he said scares away investors.

There has been a lot of debate around the indigenisation law fronted by Zanu PF.

Its supporters argue that it will allow mostly black people who were previously marginalised to participate in the economy, while those opposed to it argue that it retards economic recovery by scaring away investors.

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