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Old Mutual targets fresh leisure deal

ZIMBABWE’s largest financial services outfit, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited (OM), says it is to pounce on more tourism sector deals following a recent US$24,6 million injection into a Victoria Falls facility.

OM group customer and operations officer, Isaiah Mashinya, told businessdigest this week that after commissioning Palm River Hotel, the group was repositioning to exploit any fresh spinoffs to be presented by a slowdown in pandemic infections.

Mashinya spoke as official statistics indicated that the tourism industry rebounded during the first quarter of this year after international arrivals increased.

“The Palm River Hotel, which was opened by His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa), is fully operational now having been completed,” Mashinya told businessdigest, as he reminisced over the dire implications of the Covid-19 scourge which forced many operators to shut down and send thousands of workers home.

“We are expecting a turnaround in the tourism industry. You know Covid-19 was a challenge. But we see things turning around and business improving. So that’s the first one. We can find more opportunities. We still have plans to invest more into the tourism industry,” Mashinya added.

His sentiments were bolstered by indications by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Turkey Alfred Mutiwekuziva this week.

Speaking to Zimbabwean reporters touring that country, Mutiwekuziva said new tourist source markets were opening up, and Turkish Airlines might kick off flights between the two countries later this year.

“I have heard three discussions as of now with board members of Turkish Airlines, who have indicated very positive news to us that in the short term probably before the end of the year, we will see Turkish Airlines flying to Zimbabwe,” Mutiwazuka told reporters.

He said he had prepared a detailed report to be submitted to the government soon.

Turning to other projects that OM has recently focused on, Mashinya said the firm was exploring projects where the private sector could work in partnership with the government.

“I would say it is not only the government (that the private sector can partner with). It is more of who comes with a credible project that we can partner with and then we can fund accordingly. Going forward there are a couple of other (projects) like the Centre Grid 1, and the Harava Solar Project and some of them are at feasibility study. Once the promoters are ready we then look at them and support them. So we are looking at solar, we are looking at hydro,” he added.

The group opened the US$24,6 million Palm River Hotel last year, as part of its portfolio diversification strategy.

The four-star facility is a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, an established tourism firm with significant interests in the industry.

It boasts of 73 rooms that include presidential and honeymoon suites, in addition to private villas.

In terms of investments in renewable energy, he said the group had done a lot, including a solar plant at the OM head office, which produces 0,6 megawatts, Kupinga Hydro and another project in Hwange.

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