THE country’s largest financial services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited, is geographically diversifying its properties with a massive hotel development plan in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
The development, which will see the construction of a hotel and conference centre, is also in line with supporting the tourism industry, which is the main economic activity for Victoria Falls.
Group chief executive officer, Mr Jonas Mushosho, told our Harare Bureau that tourism is an integral part of the economic agenda, and the sector has been identified as one of the low-hanging fruits that Zimbabwe should take advantage of for growth.
As a major tourism destination in the country, which is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls will always be an ideal investment area, creating scope for the new hotel and conference development.
“In Victoria Falls, we are looking at both a hotel and conference centre,” said Mr Mushosho in an interview on the sidelines of the group’s financial results presentation.
“We are diversifying geographically, a lot of our properties have been concentrated in big centres like Harare and Bulawayo, but we believe there are other areas of interest and economic activity, so we have diversified into Hwange, Victoria Falls and Ngezi.
“Victoria Falls is a major tourism destination and we believe that it is important to develop an ecosystem that supports the tourism; therefore, our developments and investments there are part and parcel of supporting that ecosystem.
“Tourism in Vic Falls is an important part of what’s happening in the country,” he said.
The development of a new hotel facility will also support the anticipated growth in the sector. Zimbabwe is ranked 114th out of 141 in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index and is expected to experience a boom in tourism, with arrivals projected to reach 2,5 million this year on the advent of heightened economic activity following both political and economic reforms.
Mr Mushosho said: “We are going through various studies and aligning with other investors to make sure that our development is in line with that ecosystem, a lot of work is currently underway.”
The hospitality facility will also boost room capacity in the resort town, as well as in the country as a whole. The whole of Zimbabwe has fewer rooms as compared to Sandton, in Johannesburg alone.
Currently, Victoria Falls’ hotel room capacity stands at 1 128 rooms. Meanwhile, the insurance giant is also working on other developments in Ngezi, where it will construct a hospital and another facility that will house factory units for manufacturers supplying implements for the mining business in the area. Mr Mushosho indicated that the mining community of Ngezi was fast-rising and, therefore, required proper facilities to support the economic and social welfare of the community.
“Ngezi is a huge mining centre and our investment is to support in the growth of the mining community that is rising there,” he said. – The Chronicle