Tourism seeks revolving fund facility to bolster recovery

Victoria Falls

THE Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (Haz) says the country must set up a tourism revolving fund to bankroll the sector’s recovery.

Tourism is one of the four key sectors that government is banking on to drive economic recovery.

The sector was the hardest hit when the COVID–19 scourge rattled the globe two years ago, forcing governments to apply hard lockdowns.

International air travel — the heart-throb of the industry’s operations — was grounded, as authorities battled to stem the deadly contagion.

Pandemic lockdowns have been relaxed across the world and the industry has been slowly recovering.

But in Zimbabwe, players say they require funding to rebuild the sector.

In an interview with NewsDay Business, Haz vice-president Brian Nyakutombwa said a revolving fund channelled into tourism enterprises at concessionary rates would be vital.

Banks have been charging 200% interest on loans since the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced massive reviews in August, making it expensive for firms to borrow to fund operations.

“We need to offer attractive investment terms to would-be investors and encourage innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives by youths and individuals aspiring to venture into business,” Nyakutombwa told NewsDay Business.

“There is need for the availing and operationalisation of the tourism revolving fund which should set in motion tourism development initiatives and spur the industry forward. A revolving fund simply means the funds set aside in that facility get loaned out at concessionary interest rates and as borrowers repay, the money is availed to others and it revolves like that. It is a quick and affordable way of availing much-needed funds for capital expenditure for the industry,” he said.

Haz believes such funds would be crucial for funding refurbishments and retooling among several important interventions.

Government has implemented several measures to stimulate tourism recovery.

These include the removal of a 40% retention on foreign currency receipts and valued-added tax on domestic tourists.

On Monday, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest tourism groups, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) said it reported significant recovery during the third quarter.

RTG said international arrivals were rising at city hotels, while resorts, previously dominated by domestic holidaymakers, were also beginning to see a surge in foreign tourists.

“City hotels continue to contribute the highest revenues. Increased economic activities have seen city hotels’ occupancies improve to the pre-pandemic levels. Conferencing has remained a major revenue driver during the period under review. It is anticipated that the same trend will continue to year-end,” RTG said.

“Resort hotels, which have been largely buoyed by local business over the past two years have begun to attract foreign business. With international tourism experiencing a rebound, it is expected that the volumes recorded at resort hotels will improve. The group continues to reap the rewards of its international marketing activities as evidenced by the increasing bookings from international tour operations.”

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