Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
THE hospitality industry has registered a three percent performance growth in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the previous year as a result of increased arrivals on the back of renewed confidence in the country.
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, Mr Innocent Manyera, said the country’s thrust on openness for business has had a positive bearing on the industry as business delegations are jostling to come into the country to secure investment opportunities. He also noted that the election period has also had an effect on the quarter’s improved performance as countries send delegations to observe the pre-election process.
“There is growth in terms of performance in the first quarter. Compared to the previous year I would say it’s a plus or minus three percent. In the election mode that we are in, there are a number of delegates and they don’t come as individuals but as groups so there’s actually a boom in terms of travellers in the first quarter,” said Mr Manyera.
“There are a number of investors also coming into the country on a weekly basis as groups and this increases the numbers. This is mainly because of the bright future that the country has in terms of investment. So this has pushed our volumes in the first quarter.”
Mr Manyera, however, indicated that official performance figures for the entire tourism sector were yet to be released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA). He said despite improved performance, the industry still faces a number of challenges. Mr Manyera said prospective visitors shun Zimbabwe because the prices of basic travel and subsistence commodities were high compared to other destinations in the region.
“As a nation we are still deemed expensive, not only in tourism but in many areas. It’s expensive for travellers to fuel, buy food and hire shuttle services and as a result they shun the destination.
“This has affected the hospitality industry and we are engaging Government in different platforms to resolve some of these issues,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has been on an upward performance trajectory, with the country targeting at least 2.8 million foreign tourist arrivals by December compared to about 2.4 million in 2017. The coming in of the new political administration under President Emmerson Mnangagwa has brought renewed vigour through enhanced ease of doing business, which is expected to benefit the tourism sector especially.