STANDARDS Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) director general Eve Gadzikwa has called on the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company to put speed to their hotel construction plans adding that exhibitors are being short-changed by Bulawayo hotels.
Bulawayo hotels increased their accommodation prices in the past weeks in time for the 2019 edition of ZITF to the extent that some were actually charging between $600 and $1800 per night and rooms were only available for those who book for the whole week.
Efforts by the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry to try and intervene failed to yield any meaningful result thereby leaving corporates who usually send huge teams to ZITF at the mercy of hotels.
In an interview on the sidelines of ZITF, the SAZ boss said the accommodation situation was really bad and needs to be addressed urgently.
“My expectation is that the accommodation situation in Bulawayo we really need to address that one because we cannot have an international business conference or an international trade fair where there is no accommodation, the accommodation situation was really bad this year, it was very expensive fortunately I managed to secure a room at a lodge but it’s not the ideal situation.
“I think going forward my expectations is that ZITF is going to expedite its plans to establish an international conference centre with quality accommodation for its delegates because it is growing,” she said.
ZITF is arguably the biggest business expo in the country which draws participation from both local and international business to the City of Bulawayo and the fair is on a growth path in terms of exhibitors and attendance.
Gadzikwa added that “I anticipate that next year this conference is even going to be bigger and so this challenge is with us and I do believe that the organisers should really seriously reflect on investment in accommodation for the delegates remember its international remember we have delegates not only from Zimbabwe but from Zambia, from Namibia, South Africa and from all over.
“So where are all these people staying so you do not want to compromise a good product by not providing proper accommodation that meets international standards because this is an International Trade Fair,” she said.
According to the SAZ boss, hotel price madness can only be solved by creating competition for the hotels through the construction of ZITF’s own hotel.
ZITF promised to build a hotel to cushion its exhibitors from accommodation challenges more than 5 years ago but there appears to be nothing happening on the ground.
However, the company acting general manager Nick Ndebele told the media that plans are still on course and that they are currently dealing with statutory requirements.
“The conference and the hotel are still on course they are a vital component of our strategy in terms of us being a serious player in the MICE industry and currently we are working closely with Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ).
“Recently they (PRAZ) introduced the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act that we have to comply with to the letter so this is the process we are currently going through and PRAZ is helping us in terms of the steps.
“They are literary auditing the steps that we have taken this far to ensure that it is in compliance with the Act so this is where we are as soon as that is done the next phase is obviously the step of identifying a transaction advisor, we had identified the advisor but PRAZ is auditing the process so the next phase is for the transaction advisor if we have satisfied the requirement of PRAZ then they can go ahead to identify financiers for us because they are the experts in the field they know who to engage for us and so this is where we are currently,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eve Gadzikwa has also called on the ZITF Company to consider constructing a food-court to cater for different food needs, especially for international exhibitors.
“There are people from foreign countries here where are they are buying food, I was sending people into town but what about them, that is not good, what you do is you create a food court, it’s an international event remember there are people from different backgrounds some want sadza, others chips, some Japanese food, Chinese food, others chicken, beef or pork some Halaal the Moslems, now they become stuck,” she said.