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ZTA to downgrade hotels

Shakeman Mugari

THREE hotels risk having their star ratings downgraded by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) due to what insiders say is sub-standard infrastructure and low quality of

service, businessdigest can reveal.

The three ZSE-listed firms, Zim-sun Leisure Group (Zimsun), Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and TA Holdings (TA), might have their flagship hotels stripped of their stars.

The five-star Crowne Plaza Monomatapa, owned by Zimsun, and RTG’s Ambassador Hotel face downward re-ratings. Jameson Hotel, owned by TA Holdings could also lose a star.

Sources say Crowne Plaza Monomatapa risks having its stars reduced to four, down from the maximum of five. The Jameson could have its stars slashed from four to three. The Ambassador Hotel risks having its stars reduced to two from three.

Stars are an important aspect of the tourism industry because they give an indication of the standard of service and the quality of facilities at each hotel. They also indicate the capacity of the hotel to provide certain services.

Sources at ZTA told businessdigest that the authority was compiling a report on each of the three hotels before they chop stars. The sensitive issue was expected to be discussed by the ZTA board of directors this week.

Zimsun, TA Holdings and Rainbow Tourism Group have however professed ignorance of the pending action. They said ZTA had not informed them of its intention to re-rate their hotels.

RTG chief executive Chipo Mtasa said last week that she had held a meeting with ZTA chief executive Tichaona Jokonya to clarify the issue.

“I met with ZTA boss and he assured me that Ambassador Hotel was safe,” Mtasa said.

“He (Jokonya) said he had seen the draft report on the issue. He however noted that he would have to come back to us (hotels) with that report for us to respond to the issues raised.”

She said it was unfortunate that such information had been leaked to the press before the hotels had responded to the issues raised by the authority. “It is sad and unfortunate that the media should get to know of such information before us. However, we will meet Jokonya again on the issue,” she said.

Concerning Zimsun’s Crowne Plaza, Zimsun chief executive Shingi Munyeza said he had not been informed of the move. “Even if there was such a report we would have been given the right to respond. That is the usual way of doing things. It’s not like they would just downgrade the hotel without us knowing,” Munyeza said.

“I can tell you that no report of that sort has come to us. What I can say though is that such a thing would not happen without us knowing.”

A TA spokesperson said it was highly unlikely that their Jameson Hotel would lose a star. “It is unfair to say that the Jameson would lose a star. It’s unfair because we cannot be downgraded when we are still renovating the hotel,” said the spokesperson.

If taken, the move could hit the tourism industry which is curently reeling because of low tourist arrivals due to serious safety concerns in traditional markets.Tourism has slumped by more than 60% since 2000 and is likely to plunge further due to the security problems that are likely to surround next year’s election.

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