The tourism industry remains concerned by the current fuel and electricity challenges being experienced in the country ahead of next month’s Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo in Bulawayo.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
The Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel Expo is an annual expo, which attracts foreign and local tourism operators to showcase their wares. This year’s edition of the expo is running from the 12th to the 14th of next month.
The fuel challenges are characterised by high pricing and a shortage of the precious liquid due to the unavailability of foreign currency to import it, while electricity issues hinge around falling capacity to generate at mainly Kariba Dam and the Hwange Thermal Power Station.
“We are hoping that this year’s Sanganai/Hlanganani will be a success considering the enthusiasm and resilience of the businesses and service providers. However, our only concern at the moment is whether or not there will be enough fuel for businesses to take their merchandise and products to the fair. It is not a question of filling up stands, but to be able to do business since this is the biggest tourism market in the country,” Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) chief executive officer Paul Matamisa told the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
He said the issue of fuel had an impact on the ease of doing business.
“We have since taken up the issue of fuel with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and we believe they are working flat out to ensure that fuel is available before, during and after Sanganai/Hlanganani,” Matamisa said.
TBCZ is the largest business membership organization for tourism in Zimbabwe. The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) also expressed concern over the fuel shortages as a potential impediment to the expo’s success.
“We just hope relevant authorities will make fuel available for visitors and exhibitors as well as to improve on the electricity situation during the days and beyond. This is because tourism, as a sector, cannot make it far without a holistic approach by all other sectors to paint a positive image about Zimbabwe,” HAZ president Innocent Manyera said.
On the issue of pricing during the expo, Manyera said: “The issue to do with accommodation rates is mainly determined by demand and supply which are key market fundamentals to determine prices. During Sanganai/Hlanganani there is generally high demand for almost all products in Bulawayo which on its own moves prices upwards.”
“Also the cost of doing business on its own plays a role on the price of the final product. Like in our own case, we have prices of fuel, gas, electricity among other things adjusted recently due to inflationary pressures. Worse-case scenario is that we will have to rely on diesel-powered generators for the event, which is scarce and expensive compared to electricity,” Manyera added.
According to the ZTA, over 250 exhibitors have registered for the expo with about 20 countries having confirmed their participation including India, China, Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.