Zimbabwe’s drive to revamp the tourism sector could be hindered by a critical shortage of hotels, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Operations Officer, Givemore Chidzidzi has said.
ZTA has been on an aggressive drive to market destination Zimbabwe with the country recording a surge in tourist arrivals last year.
However, Zimbabwe risk failing to capitalize on the fruits of the tourism drive due to shortage of infrastructure in particular hotels, Chidzidzi told journalists on the sidelines of the second edition of the Zim Real Property Investment Forum.
He said despite various investment opportunities and brand visibility, one key area to be prioritised is that of hotels.
“Although we have natural attractions which can help us lure tourists, we can also have infrastructural attractions that are man-made and there is a lot of opportunities (in the tourism sector) so without going into the physical locations, we need to look holistically at the five aspects of tourism development and say which area can we come into.
“One of the areas which of serious in our tourism industry is that of accommodation capacity. This has always been a problem and hotel industry in Zimbabwe we can obviously and safely say we are seriously in a shortage of hotels.
“If one realises that the whole hotel capacity in Zimbabwe is actually less than the hotel stock that you have in Sandton, South Africa alone,” said Chidzidzi.
He noted that most hotel brands are very quiet in Zimbabwe serve for Holiday, which he said has maintained its dominance despite the harsh economic conditions.
He further stated that for Zimbabwe to thrive in the tourism sector, there is a need for the country to relook at the Ease of Doing Business blueprint and look at the legislation into investing in Zimbabwe.
“Licensing, permit issues and the costs of having that and from our point as the regulator in the tourism industry, we have tried to ease all the areas where we are responsible for but it’s a lot of other government arms that are involved in trying to promote tourism development,” he said.
Mashonaland Holdings Managing Director, Gibson Mapfidza, said lack of proper facilities in major tourism centres is a huge setback in the sector.
“We have seen a lot of interest in tourism but when you look at those cities and towns with what we call natural endowments, we don’t have much of infrastructure development, we talk of key roads, water etc. But essentially as well, if you look at the Victoria Falls, we don’t have hospitals and that is very key,” he said.
Wayne Troughton, CEO of South African based HTI Consulting said Zimbabwe always has that potential to redevelop and expand very quickly but key fundamentals are needed for that to happen.
The ZIMREAL Property Investment Forum is a conference centred on the Zimbabwean real estate sector.
The one-day forum is a unique platform for senior local and regional investors, developers and practitioners together with their public sector counterparts to develop a strategic roadmap to stimulate economic growth through property investment and development.