Tourists still staying away – Zimsun

Ngoni Chanakira

ZIMSUN Leisure Group finance director Nigel Mangwiro says the company lost US$700 000 worth of business following cancellations caused by the Sars outbreak in Asia.


<
FONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>He said during this period the Sars epidemic, the conflict in Iraq and fading legacy of the September 11 bombing in the United States, had continued to impact on international travel with tourists preferring to holiday closer to home.


In its unaudited financial results for the six months ended September 30, Zimsun turnover shot up by 343% to $12,694 billion while occupancies dropped six percentage points.


Operating profit for the period was $8,729 billion against a profit of $688 million in the prior period and $2,653 billion for the period ending March.


Room occupancy on the other hand, dropped from 45% during the same period last year to 39%.


Mangwiro told analysts at a briefing that although arrivals from Asian source markets had fallen during this period, recovery had begun.


“The foreign compo-nent improved marginally from 26% to 27% compared to prior year,” he said. “However, the acute fuel shortages and inflation saw a decline in local bed nights. The company has taken measures to improve the availability of fuel to those travelling by road.”


The sentiments are in stark contrast to those being expressed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) that continues to insist hotel bookings and occupancies are “shooting up and tourism receipts hitting all-time records”.


ZTA claim this will be a record year for tourism but figures from Zimsun, the country’s largest hotel chain group, show this to be grossly inaccurate.

Mangwiro hammered government saying a poor international image, spiralling inflation and adverse economic performance all continued unabated.


Inflation stands at 455,6% but is expected to increase to about 1 000% before year-end.


“Tourist arrivals, particularly from the emerging and non-traditional markets of South East Asia and Southern Europe, are likely to recover,” Mangwiro said.