ZIMBABWE could face a shortage of hotel rooms by 2020 unless there is substantial investment in tourism infrastructure before then.
The shortage of hotel rooms would be contrary to the tourism ministry’s vision to promote and market the country as a prime tourist and conferencing destination.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, has warned that the country could face inadequate hotel accommodation in the next four years resulting in it missing out on many tourism opportunities.
“In terms of our current hotel room capacity the country has, in total, 7 800 rooms in the whole country,” Kaseke said. “In order to make things realistic an additional 4 350 rooms are needed in order to support the anticipated growth in tourism by 2020.”
Kaseke issued the warning at a recent Local Government Economic Forum held in Bulawayo.
A breakdown of the additional hotel room space required indicated that Victoria Falls has the largest need for more hotels built in order to cater for the influx of foreign tourists.
The resort town has already received a boost from the construction of a US$150 million airport able to handle more travellers annually.
Victoria Falls needs 1 500 rooms, the capital Harare requires 1 000 rooms, while Bulawayo and Kariba requires 500 and 300 rooms respectively.
Kaseke expressed disappointment at the budget allocation the Tourism Ministry was receiving from Treasury, given its huge task of promoting and marketing the country as a tourist destination.
Tourism remains one of the biggest contributors to gross domestic product and contributes over 10 percent annually.
“Last year, we only received US$400 000 from the Finance Ministry. If you look at other countries in the region, such as South Africa, Botswana and Zambia, they are spending millions of dollars to market their countries to the world,” said Kaseke.
“In order for us to compete with those countries, we need the same level of support from the government to achieve that,” he added.
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