By Michael Gwarisa in Bulawayo
THE economic downturn and lack of funding for the tourism sector has cast a dark cloud over Bulawayo hotels which are battling to compete with local lodges, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Karikoga Kaseke has said.
Briefing journalists, Kaseke said the bulk of lodges around town were attracting more occupants than hotels due to their up to date infrastructure and facilities.
“Most lodges around town are doing fine as compared to hotels, i am actually staying in a lodge for the Sanganai/Hlanganani duration and i tell you i have no regrets.
“Women constitute the bulk of lodge owners in Bulawayo, that is why we as government are now targeting to empower women in tourism. In partnership with the The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), we have set up a revolving fund for the tourism industry that will focus on reviving existing hotel infrastructure before we look at setting up new facilities.
“Women will be our priority under the revolving fund,” said Kaseke.
Munda Lodge is one of the new lodges in Bulawayo that have emerged to be the talk of town owing to its spacious rooms and world class infrastructure.
Kaseke also said the RBZ governor Dr John Mangudya will be gracing the Sanganai awards ceremony on Saturday where he will elaborate more on the tourism revolving fund.
Meanwhile, he added that the 2016 Sanganai/Hlanganani edition has attracted not less than 263 exhibitors an increase from last year’s 128 while 128 buyers from both traditional and new markets are also in the country for the 9th edition of the fair.
“We have buyers from both new and traditional markets, that is Europe, South Africa among others. South Africa is by far Zimbabwe’s biggest contributor to tourism arrivals.”