By Edward Mukaro
THE Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) is optimistic of the immediate future of the industry, despite the sector averaging 10 percent (%) occupancy levels for the first quarter of 2021, amidst the effects of COVID- 19, which saw the sector literally brought on its knees due to travel bans by Governments across the globe.
Most hotels and restaurants are now fully operational since the Government relaxed the national lockdown, allowing businesses to resume operations.
Speaking in an interview with The BusinessConnect newspaper, Montclair Casino general manager and HAZ 2nd Vice President Brian Nyakutombwa said business would be increasing this coming quarter, especially if the gains of the battle against COVID- 19 are preserved.
“Occupancies are still very depressed, I would say averaging 10% across the establishments that have been open for business in Q1 (first quarter) of 2021. “But it’s encouraging to note the steady rise in traffic and bookings which I am sure is going to see the occupancy doubling or trebling as we enter the second quarter of the year.
“HAZ has been advocating for compliance with all COVID- 19 protocols and general developments so that guests can have the confidence to travel knowing their health and safety would not be compromised.
Nyakutombwa added that there are ongoing engagements with the government and other critical stakeholders for institutional support for the industry in terms of funding for the refurbishments and infrastructural improvements that enable smooth and efficient delivery of the tourism experience.
“As a low hanging fruit, the tourism industry represents one of the quickest avenues to post-COVID- 19 revival; but that has to be premised on coordinated and deliberate efforts to support the sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has called upon tourism operators who applied for the Tourism Stimulus Package to urgently get hold of the authority.
Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy for $5 billion.
The strategy has proved to be ideal as it comes at a time when the country’s tourism sector has been affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic, which has limited both regional and international arrivals.
By Edward Mukaro