Unrest in North Africa benefits Vic Falls

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Hotel group African Sun is set to benefit from the ongoing unrest in North Africa as tourists seek alternative holiday destinations.

North Africa is one of the major tourist destinations on the continent.

Speaking on the sidelines of the group’s financial results briefing, African Sun chairperson Timothy Chiganze said the outlook for the group remained positive.

He however said as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan there have been cancellations by some tourists.

“As we exit our trough period, the outlook is looking positive. The unrest in North Africa is set to benefit the Victoria Falls region as a holiday destination,” said Chiganze.

“We believe Victoria Falls is well positioned to benefit from the current developments in North Africa. It will be essential if South Africa can also get a share of the visitors as the industry there is not in a good state after the World Cup.”

Chiganze said bookings were looking very strong particularly for the Victoria Falls property as a result of conferences scheduled to take place until end of May 2011.

“However, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have led to a few cancellations for some of our Victoria Falls hotels,” he said.

The hotel group said it was on course to reach the target revenue of $64 million by year-end.

“Our revenue for five months amounted to $23, 3 million and is on target to achieve revenue of $64 million by the end of the year,” said Chiganze.

Africa Sun is going through drawdown processes on its Africa Export-Import Bank loan facility that would enable the company to undertake room refurbishments.

Chiganze said refurbishments would be restricted to items that have a high guest impact and are of primary concern to guests.

He said the group would open 231 rooms under lease before the end of the financial year at the Holiday Inn Gaborone, Botswana in August as part of meeting the target of opening of 734 rooms by December 2011

The opening of Holiday Inn Gaborone has been pushed back due to delays in construction while in Nigeria, Amber Tinapa has been closed for refurbishment to enable the owners to upgrade the hotels as well as build conference facilities which are expected to enhance revenues for the hotels.

During the year under review, African Sun
experienced an improvement in its occupancy rate from 45% to 47% while revenue per available room (RevPAR) was up 8% from $36 to $39.
Average daily rate also improved by 9% from $79 to $86.

“From our previous forecasts of RevPAR growth, Zimbabwe has already surpassed the 12% target achieving 18% in the 5 months driven mainly by conferencing business,” added Chiganze.