by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (ItNews Zimbabwe) – ZIMBABWE’S tourism sector continues defying ongoing economic challenges in the country thanks to a crucial agreement between authorities and the local energy regulator.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), an arm of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Climate Change, reached the agreement with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), which has ensured adequate fuel supplies for most tourist destinations.
The move is timely ahead of the Southern African country scheduled to host hundreds of delegates for an international summit on sustainable development.
Godfrey Koti, the ZTA Head Corporate Affairs, in an interview on Thursday, explained to ItNews Zimbabwe how the agency was weathering the storm presented by economic challenges.
“The challenges have been ugly, if I have to use that word, but we have managed to pull through,” he said.
“The fuel shortages have not been easy for anyone especially for operators. Through negotiations with ZERA, we have been managing to get adequate allocations to cover for the gaps here and there.”
He disclosed that at the peak of the sector in December last year, ZTA did not experience any fuel challenges particularly in the major resorts of Victoria Falls and Kariba.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing been experiencing an acute shortage of fuel since late last year.
Prices have been fluctuating in line with the inconsistent supply.
This has been largely blamed on fuel cartels cashing in on the country’s crises.
A lack of foreign currency in the market is the major impediment.
In addition, electricity shortages currently facing the entire Southern African region, have not spared operators and the hotel and tourism industry.
“We have to ask for electricity as well,” Koti said.
“The problem is that it affects the product one has to buy or deliver. The need to buy a generator to run a hotel for a whole month comes with additional fuel costs,” Koti added.
Generators are among sources of power in the wake of erratic supply of electricity.
While they minimise disruptions, they eat into profits.
“The extensive use of generators to power operations increased costs significantly as a result of high fuel usage, servicing and repairs,” Koti explained.
Zimbabwe’s electricity deficit is attributed to the lowering water levels at the Kariba Dam.
Power outages sometimes last up to 12 hours a day.
Big retailers also bemoaned the inadequate supplies.
“The business conditions have remained unstable and challenging characterized by…severe power shortages,” OK Zimbabwe stated on Thursday.
Zimbabwe is endowed with many natural wonders including the Victoria Falls-one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Other tourism destinations are the Gonarezhou, Hwange and Matopos National Parks, the Eastern Highlands and the Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo.
On February 24-27, Victoria Falls will host the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa sixth Session of the Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development.
The event will be held under the theme, “A decade to deliver transformed and prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.”
A total of 1 200 delegates are expected.
“We don’t want to be caught unprepared for such a massive event. We thus asked for an allocation that will cover that event. We know the benefits that come with hosting such an event in a resort town,” Koti concluded.