Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
REPRESENTATIVES of Marriott Hotels for Leisure and Business Travel, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, are in Victoria Falls this week after signing a $500 million deal to develop an exclusive hotel and a riverside lodge in the resort town.
The visit was revealed by Mr Aaron Chinhara, the managing director of Glow Petroleum and partner in the proposed investment.
He was speaking in Shurugwi on the sidelines of the official opening of a $2 million service station, the Great Dyke Centre, along the Shurugwi-Zvishavane Road recently.
Business sources in the resort town yesterday confirmed the presence of the Marriott delegates who were said to be busy in closed door meetings.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is poised for growth amid indications that the Marriot family, one of the richest families in the United States, had signed an MoU for the investment in two leisure centres worth $500 million in Victoria Falls.
Mr Chinhara said representatives of the Marriott Hotels for Leisure and Business Travel will be in the resort town for a two-day visit to work on the action plan for the investment.
“We have a half billion investment that is coming to Victoria Falls. We are starting construction in 2020 and expect to finish it in 2022. We are building what is called a boutique hotel in Victoria Falls. It will be the first concept we are putting up in Zimbabwe. It will be a hotel for those with full pockets, and to do that you need proper investment partners. We have invited and have signed a deal with the Marriott Hotels and Resorts. They are jetting into Victoria Falls on Monday,” he said.
“They will be inspecting the areas where the projects will take place. There are two places for the projects, which are a boutique hotel and a riverside camp. The Marriotts are international hoteliers in various parts of the world. They are happy to work with us, so they are coming for a business meeting with us.”
Mr Chinhara said without unnecessary red tape and corrupt elements, the country would attract many investors. He, however, said if the proposed investment faces any challenges, he would seek the support of President Mnangagwa.
“We have a problem of corrupt people from councils to even higher offices but I tell you that I will take the fight to President Mnangagwa. I have people in Government who are even against this half a billion investment, but this project will take off and will be a game changer for the tourism sector because it will be a tourist attraction. We need to do away with bottlenecks and corrupt officials,” he said.
According to Forbes magazine, the Marriott family network was worth $6,5 billion in 2015 and they were on number 42 on the list of America’s richest families.
The family shifted into the hotel business in 1957, opening the world’s first motor hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
Marriott International today controls nearly 4 000 hotels in over 70 countries, including under the Ritz-Carlton and Bulgari brands.