400% accommodation hike during ZITF

400% accommodation hike during ZITF
Published: 03 May 2018
MOST hoteliers in and around Bulawayo hiked their accommodation charges by as high as 400 percent taking advantage of desperate accommodation seekers that had thronged the city for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), which ended on Saturday.

A snap survey by this news crew during the ZITF revealed that lodges that usually charge $30 a night had increased their charges to as high as $120 per night while some of the hotels in the city had doubled their rates.

However, traditional players such as Rainbow Hotel, Holiday Inn and Cresta Churchill distanced themselves from such practice. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief operations officer, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi, said although the organisation did not condone hiking of prices by players in the hospitality industry, the trend was synonymous with global trends in the event of a big showcase of the ZITF's magnitude being held in a certain destination.

"We have noticed that this is a trend that the prices increase during trade fair. The fact that premiums increase when there is high demand is very normal in many places like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Europe when there are major events. What used to be done was an all stakeholders approach whereby the hoteliers themselves have their reasons, which we need to understand looking at it from a tourism point of view and impact on the destination," said Mr Chidzidzi.

"There is a need for an engagement, which involves all parties like ZITF, ZTA, Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) and the ministry. There has been some discussions with our parent ministry regarding this and we haven't really come up with a solution because the engagement is ongoing and hopefully after the fair we can discuss more."

Mr Chidzidzi said one of the solutions to the challenge is boosting capacity within Bulawayo. "So, when we hear of the shortage of accommodation vis a vis the high demand created by ZITF, this is why ZITF in conjunction with ZTA have tried to increase capacity by allowing those with private homes to offer accommodation over and above the accommodation in the traditional hotels and lodges. This is a way of addressing accommodation challenges but a long term solution is required," he said.

Mr Chidzidzi applauded ZITF for seeking to expand capacity and adding more rooms in Bulawayo through the construction of its hotel. He also called on hoteliers to ensure that they offer sustainable accommodation. HAZ president Mr Innocent Manyera concurred with Mr Chidzidzi saying price hikes during the fair were due to demand and supply dynamics.

"Due to the high numbers of delegates and exhibitors that come for the fair, Bulawayo doesn't have enough accommodation for everyone. We therefor urge exhibitors to book early so as to avoid accommodation challenges.

"We will consult with ZITF to see if it is possible for them to also attach forms with rates and charges of local hotels when they are sending invitations for the exhibition. Also, we will look at offering a package whereby upon booking a stand at ZITF, the exhibitor can also book a room at the same time," said Mr Manyera.

"This will largely assist the international exhibitors because we can't reserve accommodation before they pay, lest we incur losses if they decide to book another hotel or lodge when they arrive."

Mr Chidzidzi said the rate hikes during trade fair do not affect Zimbabwe as a destination given that during low demand periods, hoteliers charge normal rates.

"Foreigners who visit Bulawayo during ZITF generally stay for a week or 10 days at most. During any other time of the year, Bulawayo is more reasonably priced because when there is no demand they tend to charge normal rates," he said.

"General pricing in Zimbabwe has to be addressed starting with the inputs cost because there is that sentiment that Zimbabwe is a bit pricey. We need to look at it holistically and identify the cost drivers and address these."
- chronicle
Tags: ZITF,


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