Busy Easter period for hoteliers in Vic Falls

the herald

business journalist

HOSPITALITY industry players expect higher occupancy levels for hotels in Victoria Falls over the Easter holidays this year compared to the same period last year following the easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Last year Victoria hotel occupancy levels fell to 20% over the Easter period, but the tourism industry is expecting better times this year thanks to a favorable school calendar and relaxed closures.

Traditionally, hotel occupancy over the Easter holiday has been driven by local travelers and hotel occupancy is expected to be around 50% in Victoria Falls this year.

Hotel Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls branch chairman Arnold Musonza said in an interview that the drop in occupancy last year was due to school holidays not coinciding with Easter holidays.

The fortunes of the industry are expected to change this year as school vacations allow families to travel together, which has had a positive effect on hotel occupancy.

“Parents can now travel with their children as this is primarily our local family holiday and as a result this has had a positive effect on most families’ ability to travel together and we have seen this reflected also in the level of our occupations lately,” Musonza said. noted.

With Covid-19 restrictions having been eased due to the drop in new infections, hopes are high that the sector’s performance will be different this year.

“Obviously with the reopening of land borders, we also expect a lot of self-driving traffic across the country. We can see occupancy rates are in the 50% range, down from 20% over the same period. the previous year.

“We hope the occupancy rate will continue to grow and we can actually be proud as a Zimbabwe destination, we are on most people’s bucket list,” he said.

The growth of foreign airlines, a testament to the success of President Mnangagwa’s international engagement and re-engagement campaign, demonstrates increased interest in the country from foreign investors and visitors.

German airline Eurowings Discover last week made its maiden flight from Frankfurt to Victoria Falls, becoming the first direct passenger flight between Zimbabwe and Europe since Air Zimbabwe halted flights to London, UK. United, in 2011.

The move is expected to boost tourism, with Germans and other visitors from the rest of the European region now having access to direct connecting flights to the country.

Low-cost carrier Fastjet Zimbabwe also launched a flight between the resort towns of Victoria Falls and Maun in Botswana in March this year.

Fastjet announced in March that it would continue to operate the route using a 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 aircraft, flying four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Airline spokesman Nunurai Ndawana said: “The airline is delighted to introduce direct flights from Victoria Falls to Maun.

“Using our Embraer ERJ145 aircraft, we believe this route will facilitate more travel between these two tourist capitals of Zimbabwe and Botswana. This route has been available for many years only by private charter.

“So with the introduction of this direct connection, we believe it can boost the development and growth of tourism in the region.”

The travel and tourism sector contributed 4.1% to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product in 2020, or over US$620 million.

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