LEOPARD ROCK Hotel has begun refunding guests staying at the facility traffic fines they paid to police officers at roadblocks in a move it said would help to retain clientele. In a recent notice, Leopard Rock Hotel in Vumba told guests that it would begin refunding those charged spot fines. BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Source: Leopard Rock refunds guests for spot fines – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 3, 2016
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
“Since we have been losing business because of the Zimbabwe Republic Police stopping people and fining them arbitrarily on their way to Leopard Rock, we have a new idea. If you get a ticket on your way to Leopard Rock give us your receipt and we will credit your stay,” Leopard Rock said.
This comes as tourists have been complaining over the high number of roadblocks along the country’s highways with tourism operators warning that the roadblocks were a threat to the growth of the industry.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Francis Ngwenya said tourists from neighbouring countries in transit or visiting are faced with spot fines in Zimbabwe since the country was packaged as a Sadc tourist destination. This resultantly makes the destination uncompetitive.
“There has not been much progress made, there has been promises but no actual progress from the police. The last complaint we got was from Victoria Falls, earlier on this year, where Cresta SprayView told us that you could find between three and four roadblocks between the hotel and Victoria Falls. If anything, there has been an increase in police roadblocks,” Ngwenya said.
“When tourists are in transit or coming to visit in cars they come with cash. Spot fines make these tourists fork out cash which would have been already been budgeted when they are forced to pay the fines. We need to align our rules and road regulations with good international practices, not sacrificing national security, but in a way that does not lead to Zimbabwe being uncompetitive.”
Reports show that tourists were being fined for not having fire extinguishers, two triangles and outside reflectors. Compared to the international best practices, these items are not asked for from drivers.
In the region, the first quarter results showed there was 161 147 tourists indirect transit and a total of 363 844 total visitors who have access to roads concerning Zimbabwe. These arrivals are from Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, DRC and Swaziland.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Anastacia Ndlovu told the NewsDay that government was currently working on the ease of doing business reforms where among the tourism talking points are the spot fines which are expected to be addressed in a holistic way.
“As a ministry, we work very closely with our sister ministries including Home Affairs where the police belong. This (spot fines) is something we are currently reviewing in a way that does not compromise national security. Anything that increases the cost of visiting Zimbabwe should not happen,” Ndlovu said.
She said a resolve is expected to be reached very soon. The national average hotel room occupancy rate decreased to 36% in the first quarter of 2016 from 38% in the period last year.
In the recently released tourism results for the first quarter of the year, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority stated that Mutare/Vumba and Masvingo recorded a 7% decline in occupancy levels in the first quarter of the year.