By Daniel Chigundu
PEOPLE coming for the 5th edition of Harare International Carnival are likely to be forced to look for alternative accommodation in the city as most major hotels are a going to be fully booked.
Harare which is the capital city of Zimbabwe has a room capacity of 2371 and a bed capacity of 4387 and has no capacity to accommodate even a quarter of the people who usually come for the carnival especially the street party.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said the challenge is a result of timing as it is now a peak-period in tourism.
“Carnival is in October, and October this year has become a real October, a real October for the hotel industry is big a season, August, September, October and November, there is a small slight downward movement in the first week of December, but second-week things start picking up to Christmas.
“So October we are becoming a real tourism destination, we are now coming back to what we used to see in the past were in the peak season hotels are full. It will be very difficult for us to convince hotels that are probably 80 to 90 percent full to reduce their prices, but there are other alternative accommodation facilities that we can work on that those people who cannot afford hotels can use as alternative accommodation,” he said.
The ZTA boss added that he is pleased with what is happening in hotels in terms of bookings and that some hotels have actually resorted to over-charging as a way of managing demand for room-uptake.
“But I want to be very honest with you we are very happy with what is happening in the industry at the moment, hotels even in the city centre in Harare in most cases they are 70 to 80 percent full and at times 100 percent full.
“So it’s very difficult for you to convince someone who is over-charging to manage demand. There are some hotels now that are over-charging to manage demand to then say to them reduce your prices when it’s a market economy.
“So that’s the situation but alternative accommodation will be there for those who cannot afford hotels,” he said.
Tourism in Zimbabwe is expected to increase following confidence that has been brought by the new dispensation and various marketing strategies that are being employed by the ZTA.
Some of the strategies include the Visit Zimbabwe Campaign that is targeting such source markets as Russia and China.
Zimbabwe intends to also open a marketing office in China which is the world’s largest contributor outbound tourists.