Tour operators are beginning to soften their attitude towards Zimbabwe. There is now an improvement in arrivals from travellers from the Middle and Far East who had cut down on their holiday trips following the outbreak of SARS and the Iraq war.
Zimbabwe Sun, one of the country’s largest hotel and leisure groups, says in its half year report for September that though global tourism had slumped from 7 percent in 2001 to 2.9 percent, its revenue from international tourism had improved from 26 percent to 27 percent.
There was also a significant increase in tourists from new markets such as Spain, Italy and France.
The government had posted tourism attaches in South Africa, France and the Far East but the impact of this new development was only likely to be felt during the second half.
It says the strengthening of the rand had resulted in South Africa being 30 percent more expensive, thus reducing in-bound traffic to Southern Africa but Zimbabwe had become a cheaper destination for South Africans.
But like all other companies benefiting from the spiraling inflation, the hotel group saw its turnover for the six months shoot up from $2.9 billion last year to $12.7 billion. Total revenue for the year ending March was $8.6 billion.
Operating profit increased from $887.5 million to $8.7 billion. Net profit was $8.8 billion, almost 10 times the $892.6 million the company realised last year.
The company demerged its properties to form Dawn Properties, which was also listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. It says the demerger should enable it to prudently pursue viable regional opportunities.