National average hotel occupancy dropped by two percentage points to 40 percent in the third quarter, an industry official said today, as effects of reduced international travel due to Ebola fears begin to be felt.
Tamuka Macheka, the president of Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) said business normally picks up from the third quarter heading into the festive season, but international travel has waned since the outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever that has killed about 5 000 people in West Africa since March.
“We are looking at around 40 percent occupancy when (the industry) is supposed to be enjoying a busier third quarter,” Macheka said, without giving figures.
“We are feeling the effects of Ebola here despite the fact that we have not recorded any outbreak. Our industry is also very sensitive because the biggest supplier of our business right now is Africa and the Ebola outbreak is in Africa so the African market is affected,” he added.
Macheka said western countries also tended to view Africa as one nation and as a result many international tourists have cancelled planned visits to the country despite the Ebla outbreak being over 6 000km away.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) last month said Zimbabwe had lost business worth $6 million since the outbreak of the highly contagious virus.
Macheka said two international speakers from Asia, who had previously confirmed their participation at the HAZ congress which started yesterday, had cancelled over Ebola fears despite the fact that no cases of the virus have been recorded in Zimbabwe.
Industry guests from Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Lesotho are expected to attend the congress in Bulawayo, he added.- The Source