Hotel occupancy falls in Q1 despite 16pct increase in tourist arrivals

Hotel occupancy falls in Q1 despite 16pct increase in tourist arrivals

HARARE, August 2 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s average hotel room occupancy for the three months to March stood at 36 percent, lower than the prior year level of 38 percent despite a 16 percent increase in tourist arrivals over the same period.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said arrivals increased to 450,572 from 387,557 last year as European source markets showed improvement.

But the performance review shows that on occupancy, Harare had the highest average room occupancy rate of 53 percent followed by Victoria Falls, Midlands, Mutare/Vumba and Nyanga.

“The 53 percent for Harare was achieved through promotions on room rates offered by major hotel groups otherwise the occupancies could have been lower,” the ZTA said in a statement.

The promotions resulted in increased utilisation of accommodation facilities by domestic tourists in Harare more than in other regions. But even with such promotions, Harare experienced a one percent decline compared to the same period in 2015.

“This is attributed to the current harsh economic climate which has resulted in government, private sector and NGO’s implementing austerity measures to reduce operating costs.”

Victoria Falls had the second highest room occupancy rate but experienced a 2 percentage point decline. Mutare and Masvingo saw occupancy levels fall by seven percent each.

Tourist arrivals from mainland Africa increased by 11 percent to 380,790 from 343,644 previously.

But arrivals from South Africa and DRC fell 2 percent and 4 percent respectively, while Zambia and Tanzania saw declines of 16 percent and 20 percent, largely as a result of the depreciation of local currencies against the US Dollar used in Zimbabwe.

European arrivals into Zimbabwe rose 28 percent to 27,433 from 21,496 in 2015 and the major source markets of the Benelux Union (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), France, Germany Spain, Austria recorded increases except for Britain and Ireland, which saw declines of 10 percent each.