By Alois Vinga
HOTELIER, African Sun has reopened four of its hotels in the country’s major towns, taking advantage of the easing of the lockdown measures.
The hotels have been closed for nearly two months as part of the country’s measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Presenting a trading update Tuesday, the hotel group’s company secretary, Vernon Musimbe said the decision to reopen its units was meant to balance the firm’s survival and the risks posed by the pandemic.
“Under level two, in line with the relaxation of the lockdown measures, the group took a decision to reopen its hotels on a phased approach,” he said.
“Under phase one, four hotels being Holiday Inn Harare, Holiday Inn Mutare, Holiday Inn Bulawayo and Great Zimbabwe Hotel have reopened.”
Unplanned cancellations on hotel bookings and restricted travel due to the outbreak of Covid-19 saw African Sun Limited being forced to close 21 of its hotels and strategic business units leading to losses in revenue.
“As of 6 May 2020, our statistics have shown that we have had 31 907 room nights cancelled, being quite substantial for the business,” Musimbe said.
But despite the effects of Covid-19, occupancy for the first quarter closed at 40% representing a 2-percentage points increase from 38% recorded in the same quarter last year.
The recovery from Q1 of 2019 was largely due to a stable operating environment in contrast to the comparable quarter last year which had civil unrest and national shutdown protests.
During the period under review, room nights sold increased by 4 % from 52,617 reported in the comparable quarter last year to 54,972 this year.
Business mix for the first quarter with regards to room nights was 67% local and 33% export.
Export room nights reduced by 2% due to the early effects of Covid-19 which affected arrivals particularly in its Victoria Falls properties.
Domestic room nights increased by 8%, a growth that was driven by corporate and NGO business.
Several governments the world over are under severe pressure from business to reopen as citizens argue the pandemic was far from being over, hence the need to factor in economic interests.
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that the Covid-19 pandemic could adversely impact travel and tourism by up to 25% this year, an equivalent of three months tourism activity.