Tourist arrivals downturn costs Hwange Safari

Roadwin Chirara

ZIMSUN Leisure’s Hwange Safari Lodge continues to make crippling losses due to the downturn in the tourism sector.



erif”>The property, based in the Hwange National Park, continued to bear the brunt of the low tourist arrival with $997 million loss in the group’s interim results to March 31.


The hotel, which was once Zimsun’s cash cow, has been struggling to stay afloat with mounting operational costs which have been failing to tally with revenue generated.


The lodge’s woes have been worsened by the continued decline in business since 2000 farm invasions and the resultant political uncertainties that have impacted on occupancy levels.


The latest loss by Hwange Safari Lodge comes hard on the heels of its previous recorded $700 million loss last year.


Zimsun chief executive officer, Shingi Munyeza last week said the company would continue to operate the hotel despite its continued failure to contribute effectively on the group profits.


“We are looking at implementing new recovery measures for the business and this will see changes taking place in the operation of the lodge setting a recovery tone for us,” Munyeza said during the company’s results presentation.


On other business, Zimsun continued on a solid performance despite the low business in the sector. The group managed to increase arrivals from the international and regional source markets by 2%.


“Of note is the 50% increase in the guests from the United States from 4 024 to 6 117 guests, the 34% increase in guests from the United Kingdom from 1 544 to 2 017 guests and the 58% increase in guests from Japan from 1 822 to 2 879 guests in the current year.”


On regional operations The Grace Hotel in Johannesburg also had a sluggish second half which Munyeza attributed to low occupancy levels.

“A weaker second half performance by The Grace Hotel owing to lower occupancy levels resulted in regional operations achieving a return on sales of 7%,” said Munyeza.


However, The Elephant Hill Hotel posted a profit of $924 million during the period under review against its previous losses record of $1,3 billion.


Munyeza said the group would also focus its attention on growing its brand. “The group has also made headway in the customisation of the brand name “The Kingdom” for potential hotel establishment in the siren resorts environment due to the success of this brand in the Victoria Falls,” said Munyeza.


He said the group was still pursuing its African Sun initiative and was not relocating any of its group executives to Johannesburg as speculated.