Harare’s hotel room occupancy for the first 11 months of the year declined by seven percent compared to the same period in the corresponding year, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) has said.
The statistics under review are for the capital’s eight major hotels – Crown Plaza Monomotapa, Rainbow Towers, Meikles, Cresta Oasis, Cresta Jameson, Cresta Lodge, Bronte Hotel and Holiday Inn Harare.
Players in the sector say the country continues to suffer heavy negative publicity, but new engagements and re-engagements with foreign countries by Government are likely to see the impact being reversed in the long run.
Statistics availed to The Herald Finance and Business shows that Harare had a total of 528 069 hotel room nights in the period January to November 2019 and of this return, 254 179 were taken up or sold compared to 289 124 in 2018.
“The actual decline is over 35 000 (35 545),” said HAZ president Clive Chinwada in an interview. “So occupancy time (for the period up to) November was 55 percent last year and 48 percent this year. We have this year sold 25 4179 from 289 124 last year.”
The decline in hotel nights is a major concern for Government which has earmarked tourism to play a key role towards the revival of the economy together with other strategic sectors like mining, agriculture and the manufacturing sector.
In a wide ranging interview over the weekend with our sister publication, The Sunday Mail, HAZ said their hope was this trend will be stopped in 2020.
He said bad media publicity, which has stoked Zimbabwe in recent times, has also made it not easy for the tourism product.
“This is a significant decline, which we hope will be reversed going into 2020. Whilst we are not alarmed as a sector, we are concerned,” Mr Chinwada he said recently. As a result, we urge Government to take all the necessary steps needed to restore confidence in the country.
“In the recent past, the country has not attracted good publicity, which we need to work on as a nation in order to improve the industry’s prospects,” he said.
Mr Chinwada noted that some key destinations that should generally be stronger are not as competitive as they have been in the past, particularly when measured against the boom period of 1997 to 1999.
Key destinations like the Eastern Highlands, Masvingo and Kariba, which are key destinations on the Zimbabwean hospitality and tourism circuit, are performing below optimal levels, with only the Victoria Falls continuing to lead the way.