ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief operations officer Givemore Chidzidzi has welcomed the decision by Touch Road International Holdings and Mashonaland Holdings to convert Charter House into a hotel, adding that the move will go a long way in addressing accommodation capacity in Harare.
Harare which is the capital city of Zimbabwe has only 2371 rooms a far cry compared to conferencing facilities it has where for example the HICC alone has a sitting capacity of 4500.
Chidzidzi said Harare lost a lot of hotels over time some of which have been converted for other uses and there has not been matching additions leaving the city in dire need of more accommodation investments.
“Harare over the years has been losing out in terms of accommodation, I would like to go down memory lane for those who are a bit older, you will remember the likes of George Hotel in Harare, Machipisa Park Lane Hotel (now GMB Head office), Quality International Hotel (formerly Norfolk Hotel), Beverly Rocks Motel (now Management Training Bureau), Kentucky Airport Hotel and Feathers Hotel in Malbelreign.
“This is just a short list and we can go on and on, but we have lost all this capacity in Harare over the years and without any addition and this is the reason why we are actually very excited about this event (Touch Road International Holdings and Mashonaland Holdings MOU) because of all the minus that we have been having in the city of Harare and there has not been any meaningful addition in hotel capacity,” he said.
According to Chidzidzi, conversion of buildings has become the in-thing across the world as most cities no longer have space to build new hotels.
“We need to also understand that the conversion of existing buildings into accommodation facilities is actually trending all over the world if you go to places like Durban, Cape Town, Berlin or London they have no space to build new hotels in some of those places all they simply do is convert existing buildings into accommodation facilities and it has caught on to individuals as well,” he said.
Zimbabwe is anticipating an increased arrival statistics going forward and it is expected that there will be accommodation shortages come 2020 and Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said this can only be addressed through increased investment in new accommodation facilities.
“To cater for the anticipated increase in tourist arrivals there is a need for increased investment in the accommodation room stock.
“As we move to promote tourism investment by local and foreign investors it is also imperative to attract international brands to Harare and other key destinations so as to enhance our competitiveness as destination Zimbabwe,” she said.
The refurbished Charter House will become a 5-star hotel, with about 80 luxurious rooms and top of the range restaurants and is expected to gobble between US$15 and US$20 million.
Tourism is one of Zimbabwe’s key economic revival sectors together with mining, agriculture and manufacturing; however, tourism is touted as the low hanging fruit of the economy with quick wins if adequately marketed and branded.–