by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE –THE impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown is now reflecting on the financial performance of Zimbabwe’s leading hospitality groups.
Meikles Limited, which owns the Victoria Falls Hotel, reported a decline in occupancy as it issued its latest trading update.
The company disclosed room occupancy retreated 20,79 percent and 9,66 percent points for the quarter and full-year respectively against the comparative period.
“Room occupancy for the fourth quarter was adversely impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19,” the update reads.
The Victoria Falls Hotel closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was first reported in Zimbabwe in late March.
The hotel owners however stated the facility had adequate financial resources to survive a prolonged period of closure.
Meikles also operates the Zimbabwean entity of South African retail group, PicknPay, Tanganda Tea Company and the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.
It disposed of Meikles Hotel in Harare on March 1.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is suffering from the global crisis bedeviling the industry.
This follows restrictions in international and to an extent, domestic travel.
Victoria Falls, the Southern African country’s tourism hub, has been left resembling a ghost town.
Clive Chinwada, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, was pessimistic of the sector’s recovery in the short term.
“Recovery by the travel and tourism industry will take some time and will happen in phases. Some market segments will start to recover much quicker than others,” he said in an interview.
He added, “However, it will probably require at least 24 months at the minimum for international destinations like the Victoria Falls to return to viability.”
The Zimbabwean government has set aside ZWL$500 million stimulus package to revive tourism, with a major focus on the domestic front.
Zimbabwe has been recording a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days.
The cases rose to 206 in Zimbabwe by Wednesday.
Four deaths have been confirmed.
Globally, cases have reached 6,2 million and 375 000 deaths, according to figures compiled by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
– CAJ News