US$96m flows into tourism industry

Source: US$96m flows into tourism industry | Newsday (News)

INVESTORS injected US$96 million into Zimbabwe’s tourism sector during the first half of 2022, defying pandemic induced setbacks, a Cabinet minister has told NewsDay Business.

Tourism minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu said the increase was a result of government initiatives through the Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy.

“Although the tourism sector was hard hit by the COVID-19, it registered tourism investments worth US$39 million in the first quarter of 2022 and US$57 million in the second quarter of 2022,” Ndhlovu told NewsDay Business.

“Notable investments include the Palm River Hotel, Zambezi Boutique Guesthouse, Mbano Lodge, Guest Lodge, among other investments in Victoria Falls. Vehicle hire, accommodation, travel agency, house boats and restaurants accounted for the greater percentage of the investments.

“Tourism investment increased from US$86 million in 2020 to US$142 million in 2021. This is mainly on the back of a raft of initiatives by government through the implementation of the Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy towards a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025,” he said.

He said Mosi oa Tunya Company, a private company under the ministry, initiated a joint venture agreement with Old Mutual Life Assurance Company on feasibility studies for bulk infrastructure development in Masuwe, Victoria Falls.

The company was allocated 271 hectares of prime land earmarked for tourism development in Victoria Falls.

Financial services group Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited last year opened the US$24,6 million Palm River Hotel, with chairperson Kumbirayi Katsande saying the industry was ripe for investment.

The four-star facility, a world class real estate gem on the shores of the Zambezi River, is a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, an established tourism firm with significant interests in the industry.

Government has put in place initiatives meant to attract investors and to boost the performance of the sector.

These include the extension of the duty exemption facility on tourism capital goods.

In May this year, Ndhlovu disclosed that the county’s tourist arrivals rose by 93% during the first quarter as international holidaymakers trooped back to the country’s resorts in response to relaxed pandemic curbs worldwide.

He said arrivals increased to 126 955 during the period, from 65 882 during the same period in 2021.

Business travel has also increased in the past few months, and more conferences have been held, driving hotel occupancy levels.

Ndhlovu said domestic tourism also rebounded during the period, pushing hotel occupancy rate to over 30% from about 14% previously.

Decisions by governments at the height of the COVID-19 scourge to ground airlines and restrict international travel pushed foreign tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe down by 90% in 2020 — the biggest plunge in 40 years — before more write-downs shook the market last year.

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