Zimbabwe: the African sun to beautify hotels

The listed hotel group, African Sun Limited will commit a significant amount of capital in the current financial year to restore the image of its hotels as it repositions itself for the expected rebound in tourism.

The group has indicated that one of its priority areas is improving the customer experience and consolidating its market share.

At the Troutbeck Resort alone, an investment of US$1.8 million is expected to be made for renovations which began in the past fiscal year.

“The Troutbeck Resort is already undergoing renovations which should reposition the hotel to provide the best guest experience while firmly establishing the hotel as the hotel of choice in Nyanga.

“The renovation, which started in 2021 with a complete roof renovation, is expected to be completed in 2022 when the hotel’s 100 rooms will be renovated. An investment of $1.8 million is expected to be made in this regard,” said the group’s chief executive. Tinashe Saungweme in the group’s 2021 annual report.

The renovation of 47 rooms at the Victoria Falls Hotel is also progressing well and work is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

According to the group, preparatory work to complete the refurbishment of eight additional halls at Great Zimbabwe, including repairs to the Hungwe Conference Centre, is at an advanced stage, with actual works expected to begin during this second quarter. of the year.

Plans are also underway to renovate the rooms at Hwange Safari Lodge with mock rooms which have been started. The first phase of the project, which aims for 60 rooms, should be completed in 2022.

In fiscal 2021, the group also experienced challenges emanating from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in travel restrictions across the world.

But the group’s town and country hotel segment remained resilient in the face of the ravages of Covid-19 and remained the cornerstone of improved hotel business performance, contributing 63% to the hotel’s total revenue. group hotels for the year. Its three Holiday Inn hotels, the Troutbeck Resort and the Monomotapa Hotel fall within this segment.

The division achieved an occupancy rate of 45% for the reporting period, an improvement of 9 percentage points compared to the 36% achieved the previous year.

According to the group, all the hotels in this division recorded profits except for the Monomotapa hotel which operated below the break-even point.

The main source of income for this division was mainly the conferencing activities of government, quasi-government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and corporations. As the economy emerged from the lockdown period, conference business was understandably largely confined to city hotels versus resort hotels.

Resort hotels, according to the group, have been the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic as they mainly rely on international tourists.

Elephant Hills Resort, Kingdom at the Victoria Falls Hotel, Hwange Safari Lodge, Caribbea Bay Resort and Great Zimbabwe Hotel fall under this segment.

On a positive note, all of the division’s hotels experienced a steady recovery, ending the year with 19% occupancy, compared to 12% the previous year, largely due to conferences and festive season after the government lifted inter-provincial travel. limitations.

The segment focused on the domestic market under the “Rediscover Zimbabwe” campaign which was the dominant travel theme in 2021 to promote domestic travel.

Mr. Saungweme said the strategy was to counter the decline in international arrivals which led the segment to realize only 7% of its nights sold by international travelers, compared to 55% achieved in 2019.

The group remains optimistic that the fortunes of resort hotels will gradually improve in 2022 as the international market opens up further and offset the negative impacts felt in the previous year when international tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe declined. 40% compared to 2020, and were 84%. lower compared to the pre-pandemic period of 2019.

As a result, the tourism and hospitality sector has been heavily anchored by the domestic market in 2021. International overnight stays for our hotels were 26% lower than last year according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority .

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