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Tourism players upbeat over festive season

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BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
DESPITE the travel restrictions announced by authorities, tourism resorts are already fully booked ahead of the Christmas holiday spurred by the domestic market.

Authorities recently announced strict travelling conditions following the outbreak of the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Some of the conditions require foreign travellers to quarantine for 10 days regardless of testing negative for COVID-19.

This has discouraged foreign tourists from flocking  into the country, with hoteliers having to make a slew of cancellations as a result.

The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ), however, told NewsDay Business that city hotels would see a decline in bookings during the holidays, with resort hotels  booked to full capacity and geared to enjoy brisk business during the festive season.

According to HAZ president Farai Chimba, locals dominate the number of tourists as   families take time to shrug off the mundane day-to-day life to enjoy the holidays in resort towns.

Popular resorts include Kariba, Nyanga, Vumba, Matopos, Hwange and Victoria Falls.

“For the industry, it’s been in survival mode for the past 18 months, with the upcoming festive being the last part of the year in which numbers can be significant. Resorts across the country will see favourable business over the holidays, while city hotels traditionally see a decline,” Chimba said.

“Resorts are sitting between 60% and 100% full based on location. The market is driven by domestic travel over this period, making up the majority of bookings.”

He said notwithstanding the impact of travel restrictions on tourism, local travel had been on the rise.

“There was a direct impact on festive bookings which had a diaspora component. However, it’s also seen a surge in local travel by those that had planned external holidays deciding to stay,” the HAZ president said

“What remains vital is encouraging vaccination and observance of COVID-19 measures by all and prevent further infections as that becomes the building block for safe business resumption and prevents further detrimental measures to business.”

Chimba spoke as investors have injected US$100 million into Zimbabwe’s tourism sector  for new projects this year, according to Tourism minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu.

Financial services group Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited opened the US$24,6 million Palm River Hotel in Victoria Falls, with chairperson Kumbirayi Katsande saying the industry was ripe for investment.

The four-star facility, a world-class real estate gem on the shores of the Zambezi River, is a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, an established tourism firm with significant interests in the industry.

Other projects that were unveiled recently include Zambezi Boutique’s US$1 million investment, and Nkosi Guest Lodge — a multi-million-dollar facility.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa early this month  officially opened three new facilities in Victoria Falls where he reiterated that Zimbabwe was on target to achieve the US$5 billion tourism industry economy by 2025.

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