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Hoteliers push for grants

A hotel room

ZIMBABWE’S hoteliers have said they need low interest loans to drive their recovery.

In an interview with NewsDay Business, Hotel Association of Zimbabwe president Farai Chimba said the industry would also quicken its recovery if it accesses grants — non-interest-bearing forms of funding.

Last year, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe said the industry required up to US$100 million in grants to ride out COVID-19 pandemic-induced setbacks.

The bulk of African governments, including Zimbabwe, have failed to put in place bailout mechanisms to save industries or chip in with tax relief measures to defuse the crisis.

“A financing cocktail is needed that gives lower interest rates along with grants and concessions on some of the licences and statutory obligations that haunt the industry among a few,” he told NewsDay Business.

“As global travel resumes, in Africa, we must be geared up for new travel trends. We have no doubt we can achieve the accelerated growth that comes with it with sound marketing and promotional initiatives on the global and regional markets.”

Chimba said the licensing regime should also be reviewed to improve the business climate.

 “The issue of licensing remains a thorn in the flesh as this has a remarkable bearing on our operational costs. These have to be reviewed to help the sector attract more visitors and clients by providing a cheaper destination,” he added.

“We believe if the challenges are addressed we are able to focus on marketing the destination and grow arrivals into the country. We need to embrace the fourth industrial revolution more and make use of technology to make money for our businesses.

“There are key fundamentals that affect pricing. Among them are supply and demand factors. These determine pricing in most cases. Room stock for Victoria Falls is below 2 900. Mainstream hotels account for less than 1 200 rooms.

“Neighbouring Botswana has a much more limited room stock and contrary to belief, their product is much more expensive due to high demand on low room stock. As continued investments come into this destination, the more likely we will see rates reduced.”

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