Business - Featured - Tourism & Travel - March 25, 2021

Covid 19 costs hospitality industry US$1 billion

Tendai Bhebe (Bulawayo Correspondent)

The country’s hospitality sector lost US$ 1 billion due to Covid -19 lockdown restrictions that have crippled the hospitality industry.

A survey made by this reporter has proved that the tourism and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe is one of the significant earners of revenue in general and foreign currency in particular.

In an interview with BusinessMail, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) vice president, Mr Farai Chimba said the impact of the lockdown restrictions is far reaching not only to hospitality industry but various value chain companies that feed into tourism industry

‘The impact is far reaching not only to hospitality industry but various value chain companies that feed into tourism industry. We have always viewed these major events as key generators of revenue and their absence is adding to the huge loss in revenue over the past year. We are hopeful that with vaccine roll out resumption of these in a safe environment will be done. The future is participants must be vaccinated amid this laves way for safer face to face contact to conduct business at the large events.

The roll out of the vaccine in major resort and around the country is an extremely welcome program and will signal a growth again for the travel and hospitality trade It’s estimated over 1 Billion USD has been lost in the past year alone. This is also reflective of global losses estimated to be up to 1.2usd trillion according to United Nations World Tourism Industry (UNWTO),” he said.

Mr Chimba said it has been a very difficult year for tourism but it has opened up some of the tourism products to the local market an opportunity to experience these at discounted rates.

“It has been a very difficult year for tourism however this has opened up some of the tourism products to the local market an opportunity to experience these at discounted rates. This will boost future domestic travel as our own citizens become more aware and have a segment that would have traveled out also visit locally.

There has been continued investments despite closures and challenges due to no business with renovations and building of new products taking place with the Ilala Palm in Victoria Falls becoming the new Hotel stock to be added. There have been fruitful engagements with key stakeholders in reshaping and improving the industry post Covid which went a long way in ensuring sustainability,” Chimba said.

Mr Chimba added that the industry was making adequate preparations to ensure that reopening will happen as soon as possible.

While closures and staff rationalization has taken place, the factors that drive tourism is access which has been absent. What the industry has done is make adequate preparations to ensure that reopening will happen without false starts and closures due to further outbreaks attributed to our facilities. Partnerships have been made with medical facilities and technology companies in ensuring the smooth process of reopening.

Trainings and engagements with stake holders has continued in creating awareness and also facilitating business sustainability.

He said that the major challenge they are facing is the rising cost of doing business.

“The major challenge remains the rising costs of doing business among them council rates and levies having gone up significantly across the country without revenues to sustain the increases. Accessing the relief fund facility for players remains a slow process which players have not been able to make use to resuscitate and rescue business which we continue to engage to make this a reality,” he said.

HAZ is a trade association representing and promoting the interest of owners and operators of hotels, restaurants, clubs and other related establishments

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