Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
ALL major hotels and lodges in Bulawayo are now fully booked ahead of this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) scheduled to run from 20 to 23 July.
The exhibition, suspended last year after the country imposed a lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, bounces back this year under the theme, “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and Opportunities.”
This year’s edition takes place as the country and the world begins the long trek of recovery following the negative economic impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic which has left many countries reeling from business closures owing to lockdowns, depressed demand and all-round devastation across economic sectors.
As one of the few hotels in the country that have absorbed Covid-19 shocks and are on the road to recovery, African Sun (Private) Limited said one of its 11 owned properties, Holiday Inn Bulawayo has been fully booked ahead of the ZITF.
“Holiday Inn Bulawayo is currently at 100 percent fully booked for the ZITF period. All of our clients are local from here in Zimbabwe and we do not have any foreigners booked,” said African Sun digital marketing manager, Mr Trevor Zuze in an interview.
Banff Lodge Hotel manager Ms Lisa Dickson said they were also fully booked in May.
“Yes, we are also now fully booked for the ZITF period, in fact, I must say within two hours the ZITF dates being announced we were already receiving calls of booking and the very day all our rooms had been booked,” said Ms Dickson.
She said their booking comprised Government ministries officials and diplomats. Sethule Lodge and Conference Village reservationist, Mr Mehluli Moyo said they were however still receiving bookings from companies and individuals ahead of the ZITF.
“Companies and individuals are still sending through their emails booking accommodation for the ZITF period. We haven’t allocated the rooms yet but by mid-month we should be closing the booking window and start allocating rooms based on the emails we have received. We are also yet to come up with the ZITF pricing,” he said.
Most hospitality facilities counted losses last year after the ZITF was cancelled. These are bound to recoup this year as ZITF is the biggest annual economic conference in the country. However, ZITF which used to traditionally draw thousands of local and foreign delegates, bringing in wider business benefits mainly to the tourism sector and down the value chain, this year will operate on a strictly by invitation basis to most of its events.
The organisers of the country’s biggest annual trade expo announced that the show will make a return this year and will be held in July for four days instead of the usual five days, under tight Covid-19 mitigation protocols.