Godfrey Marawanyika/Chris Goko
LEISURE boutique hotel MontClair has taken over the running and operations of Harare Safari Lodge, about 30 kilometres west of the capit
al, for the next five years, its group chairman has said.
Sources said the lease gives the new tenants an option to buy the lodge at the expiry of the lease which is tucked on the eastern shore of Lake Chivero and in an exclusive conservancy at Harare’s main supplier of clean water.
“We will be renting the hotel lodge and hope to develop it within the next five years,” Cornelius Sanyanga told businessdigest.
“We are still sprucing up the place since it has been closed to the public for some time, but when we get more money we would want to develop the place further.”
The former Stanbic Bank chairman would not disclose how they would fund the on-going refurbishment.
Before the recent take-over, Harare Safari Lodge had been closed for the last part of 2004 and only re-opened to the touring public at the beginning of February.
Depending on the successes of the venture, the MontClair backers are soon expected to rebrand the private tour operation and insiders said the lease agreement entails new owners paying a certain percentage of their profits to the previous owners.
Sources said the acquisition effectively marks the expansion of MontClair, whose operations have been confined to Manicaland.
The group not only operates a hotel in the prime Nyanga area, but is also involved in the casino business.
Sanyanga said as part of growing operations and putting a foothold in the lucrative Lowveld tourism sector, his company planned to set up shop in the tri-nation transfrontier park, a mega project involving Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
In a related tourism development, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has drawn up a dual billing system for local travel agencies.
Under the system, which is meant to address concerns within the tour sector and mainly foreign airlines, tour agents are now allowed to buy and process tickets in Zimbabwe dollars, which they will lodge with the central bank for procurement of foreign currency to settle international obligations or remittances.
Several travel agents operating in Zimbabwe have been failing to repatriate earnings to their foreign owners and shareholders due to the prevailing foreign cash crunch.
The more flexible travel-debt settlement arrangement was announced in the RBZ’s latest exchange control regulations.
“The relevant applications for sourcing foreign currency from the auction are made through the batch system.
“Travel agents wishing to operate special foreign currency accounts (SFCA) are required to submit specific requests to exchange control, which applications are considered on a case-by-case basis,” read the policy guidelines, meant for corporates, dealers and individuals.
However, funds deposited in SFCA can only be kept in these special accounts “for not more than 14 days”, within which a travel agent should pay the respective airline or recipient through the International Air Transport Association (IATA) billing system maintained by one authorised dealer of IATA’s “choice”.