Zimbabwe is desperately in short supply of hotels to accommodate scores of tourists that frequent the southern African nation putting paid to efforts to resuscitate the tourism sector, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Operating Officer Givemore Chidzidzi has said.
Zimbabwe is chasing an ambitious target of three million visitors by end of 2019, having received 2, 5 million visitors and contributed significantly to treasury in the previous year.
Addressing delegates at the ZimReal conference in Harare Wednesday afternoon Chidzidzi said a lot of investment was needed to prop up tourism infrastructure development adding property developers have an opportunity to invest with government support.
“One of the areas that is of serious concern in our tourism sector is the issue of accommodation capacity and this has always been a problem,” he said, adding:
“The hotel industry in Zimbabwe, we can safely say we are serious under-hotelled. If one realizes that the whole hotel capacity in Zimbabwe is actually less than the hotel stock you have in Sandton, South Africa, alone. I have one example that I will always give.
“I know of one hotel in Las Vegas that has a bigger room capacity than the whole of Harare, just one hotel. So you have an opportunity, the international brands, right now we talk of one brand and all the other brands are silent.“
Chidzidzi said government through ZTA has introduced the tourism infrastructure zone meant to provide support to investors and also a serious investment drive with some areas being declared special economic zones.
“What are we doing to try and attract investment in the tourism industry…yes we need to address issues with our legislation, ease of doing business, licensing issues, permit issues and the cost. From our point as the regulator we have tried to ease all the areas where we are responsible for. But it’s a lot of government arms that are involved I n promoting tourism development,” he said.
Wayne Troughton of HTI Consulting applauded the tourism industry in the country adding that Tourism Investor Confidence in Zimbabwe has so far grown after elections.
He reiterated that this has helped the country attract bigger brands in the hotel industry which will create more hotel rooms in the country.
Troughton said many big brands in tourism are now interested in investing in Zimbabwe which will add more than 1000 rooms as soon as possible.