Zimbabwe tourism arrivals hit new record


At Meikles, executive chairman John Moxon said recently that the company is expanding the Victoria Falls Hotel to meet increased demand for rooms.

Rainbow Tourism Group also has set aside $1 million to redo 88 rooms at Victoria Falls. So far, 46 rooms have been renovated.

Brainworks sold its financial services business to focus on tourism, according to CEO Childs. There has not been any new large hotel built in Zimbabwe for years, and the company is now buying land to build new hotels to prepare for higher demand.

Africa Sun head Edwin Shangwa, at an AGM mid-year, told shareholders that the company was refurbishing Holiday Inn Mutare, Kariba’s Caribbea Bay, Hwange Safari Lodge and the Victoria Falls Hotel.

However, more and more tourists are looking away from traditional accommodation and looking for adventures elsewhere.

Sharon Stead, of Amalinda Safari, told the Telegraph of UK recently: “There’s now more interest in destinations off the beaten track.”

Operators are investing in building facilities that meet the demands of such visitors, with new bush lodges and tented camps planned.

Great Plains Conservation, which operates retreats in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, recently acquired some land in Sapi, near Mana Pools, where it is building camps, according to its head Jonathan Hudson. Great Plains also plans to build a luxury camp in the Zambezi National Park.

Wilderness Safaris this year reopened Little Makalolo, a bush camp in the Hwange National Park, which had been closed for years. Zambezi Cruise Safaris plans to open Kulizwe Marina Lodge in Binga Town and the Crowned Eagle Boutique Hotel overlooking Kariba.

Companies are also targeting low-budget and domestic tourists, with Shearwater investing $35 million into low-cost lodges across the country. The company has already completed the Explorers’ Village, a cluster of low-cost lodges at Vic Falls, at a cost of $4 million.

For the first time in years, this year Zimbabwe got some good PR from the global travel press, with positive reviews from media such Telegraph Travel, Huffington Post and The Vanity Fair and recommendations by travel platforms such as Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Japan’s Seichi Travel and Frommers.

But while the half year was good, the last quarter has seen the return of fuel queues, rising inflation and worsening foreign currency shortages, factors that may slow the recovery in 2019. Many operators are still uncertain as to how to treat foreign currency payments, according to Tourism Business Council president Paul Matamisa. “It doesn’t look like there is common way of how do we do things and that creates a lot of problems for operators,” Matamisa was quoted as saying recently.

Poor air access inside the country remains also a key concern. Air Zimbabwe was this year placed under administration, although Transport Minister Joel Matiza confirms that the company is looking to buy three Embraer E145 by the first quarter of 2019 for the airline to work regional and domestic routes.

Zimbabwe is also far more expensive than its regional competitors, such as Zambia, Botswana, Kenya and Mozambique.- NewZWire


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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