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Friday 25 September 2015

Land availed for Vic falls special economic zone

THE government has availed 300 hectares of land for the setting up of a special tourism economic zone in Victoria Falls while negotiations with an Indian company to set up a hotel in the resort town are nearing conclusion. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government was working towards improving the tourism sector’s contribution to economic growth through providing necessary incentives and support.

“We’ve already taken a decision in Cabinet to establish a special tourism economic zone in Vic Falls. Some 300 hectares of land has already been made available by the government to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality for the development of this special economic zone,” said Chinamasa. “Tourism is currently contributing 10 percent to the country’s GDP but as the government we’re working towards improving that to 20-30 percent. We look forward to an increase in tourism contribution to the fiscal exports receipts.”

Minister Chinamasa said the completion of the Vic Falls Airport would see bigger aircraft landing in the tourism city. The multimillion dollar Vic Falls international airport currently under expansion will change the face of the region and the airport which is going through a $150 million face-lift will be capable of landing and handling, in all conditions, long haul wide body jets.

Victoria Falls airport is expected to accommodate three times more passengers than it currently handles. Despite thousands of tourists visiting the resort town every year, there has been little investment in infrastructure. The expansion work, which is being carried out by China Jiangsu and funded by China Exim Bank, also includes upgrading the domestic terminal building, constructing a new fire station, control tower and installation of state-of-the-art aviation equipment.
Source: Land availed for Vic falls special economic zone (22/09/15)

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Legacy partners African Sun in Victoria Falls

AFRICAN Sun Limited (ASL) has entered into a partnership agreement with the Legacy Group of Hotels (LGH), to manage five of its hotels, with the aim to globalise the units and making them more competitive.
Legacy is among the largest hotel chains in South Africa, with operations in Gabon, Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria and d will manage ASL hotels from October 1.
ASL board chairperson, Hebert Nkala said last week that the new business model, which the group has adopted, will see a number of changes happening and is a move away from the traditional in-house hotel management model to hotel investment model.
Nkala said under this model ASL will globalise the hotels by contracting international hotel management companies of repute to manage selected hotels in the group.
“Legacy will take over management and embark on major refurbishment of the Elephant Hills Resort and Conference Centre, The Kingdom at Victoria Falls, Hwange Safari Lodge, Troutbeck Resort and Monomotapa Hotel,” Nkala said.
He said the group expects LGH to spend about $60 million in refurbishments and expansion over the next three years, with major refurbishments at Elephant Hills starting within the coming eight weeks.
He, however, said the new look ASL group will have three strategic business units or divisions which are the Legacy Group SBU with the five hotels headed by Legacy Group chairperson, Bart Dorrestein and his team.
The International Hotels Group (IHG), another hotel super brand, which retained its right to continue with the franchising structure with respect to Holiday Inn Harare and Holiday Inn Bulawayo and the soon to be rebranded Holiday Inn Mutare.
This SBU will be headed by Tich Hwingwiri.
The unbranded hotels business unit, which will be made up of the Victoria Falls Hotel, an affiliate of the Leading Hotels of the World, which the group is currently operating with its partner, Meikles Hotel.
Nkala said under this unit will also fall three of the group’s remaining hotels which will continue to be managed by ASL until their future was decided, Caribbea Bay Resort, which needs major refurbishment, Great Zimbabwe Hotel which needs an extensive product revamp and Beitbridge Express Hotel whose viability is still being assessed.
He said the units will report directly to ASL managing director Edwin Shangwa.
Nkala said ASL has begun making positive steps towards rationalising its regional exposure in the expansion projects across the continent and that, including other efforts on the home front, such as head office head count which has been reduced to 12 from 42.
He also said the group debt has been reduced to $9,8 million from $ 22 million as at August 31.
Nkala said ASL will disinvest from its regional operations.
“To that effect the, Amber Hotel Accra, Ghana lease agreement was mutually terminated effective August 31 2015 and management is in the process of engaging the West African Sun Hotels Limited, Nigeria with a view to exit by September 30 2015,” he said.
He added that the rationalisation exercise will result in savings of over $10 million per annum.
The savings will be concentrated back into ASL profitable Zimbabwe operations that are going to need substantial capital expenditure to bring them back to their former glory, Nkala said.

Monday 21 September 2015

Victoria Falls airport to miss completion deadline

THE new look multi-million dollar Victoria Falls International Airport, currently undergoing a Chinese-funded upgrade, will miss the September completion deadline, a source familiar with the project said, although government remains hopeful that it can still be commissioned this year.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) initiated the $150 million airport expansion project in February 2013 to boost its aircraft handling capacity and tourism in Victoria Falls and expected the all the project works to be completed by next month.

“We will miss September deadline but details will be clear next week on Monday when management from Harare will come for a meeting with stakeholders,” a source told The Source last week.

Last year the contractor, China Jiangsu, requested an extension, first to June and later to September this year.

Initially, the international terminal building was scheduled for a November 2014 completion while the new four kilometre runway was scheduled for completion last December.
None of them are complete with work still ongoing on the three storey structure, resurfacing the old parking area and clearing outside parking area. Construction of the control tower and fire station is still underway.

The project also involves upgrading of the domestic terminal building, construction of a new water plant and installation of state –of–the art aviation equipment.  The aircraft parking area is being extended to allow parking of five wide body aircraft at any given time.

However, tourism minister Walter Mzembi who was in the resort town last Tuesday, said the facility was still within its completion timeframe.

“I am hopeful the airport is still within its completion timeframe. Remember there is a lot of work going on and this facility will be a game changer,” he said.

“As a ministry we are also doing something parallel as we are inviting airlines because we hope the airport will be commissioned before year-end.”

The new-look airport would handle more than 1,7 million passengers annually, up from the current 500,000 and would process wide-bodied aircraft.

The expansion is being funded by China Exim Bank.

Airlines currently using the airport are Air Zimbabwe, Fly Africa, South Africa Airways, Comair and Air Namibia.

Friday 18 September 2015

Hotels, tour operators dismiss 250 workers

Leonard Ncube and Adelaide Moyo Victoria Falls Reporters

PLAYERS in the tourism industry have joined the bandwagon of employee dismissals using the recent Supreme Court ruling with hundreds of workers being served with letters of termination of contracts last week.

Africa Sun Group’s Elephant Hills Resort, Kingdom and Victoria Falls Hotel, Khanondo Safari Tours and Lion Encounter are some of the giant players that dismissed workers this past week.
A combined 250 workers were served with letters of dismissal and the number could be more as information from other players that include lodges could not be established.

The workers, including the longest serving, were given three months’ notice as per the Supreme Court ruling.

Thirty workers were reportedly shown the exit door at Elephant Hills while the hotel is believed to be targeting to offload 150 workers.

At Khanondo Safaris, which is owned by Transport Minister, Obert Mpofu, 36 workers have been dismissed with immediate effect while an unconfirmed number had contracts terminated a week ago.

“On Wednesday we were called into the office and each was given a letter of termination of contract. They told us that the dismissal is with immediate effect. Thirty were given the letters and we don’t even know how many will be served later,” said one of the affected workers from Elephant Hills.

“A total of 36 workers from Khanondo Safaris have been served with three months’ notices. A majority of these were given the letters last week. We were told to stop reporting for work immediately. People are leaving with nothing despite the number of years served at the company. Most people are shattered because we are owed a lot of money in unpaid salaries,” a former Khanondo Safaris worker added. Another worker said life will be unbearable for many of them.

One of the notice letters from Khanondo Safaris shown to Chronicle reads in part: “Please be advised that your express or implied contract of employment has been terminated in terms of Labour Act 29:01 read with its amendment No 7 of 2005, Item 6, Section 12 Subsection 4(a) due to the current business environment marked by low business. You are hereby given three months’ notice to terminate your contract and you will not be required to serve notice. Your last day at work is August 8. You will be paid your terminal benefits including cash in lieu of leave and notice pay by or on October 30”.

The dismissals come at a time when the government is fast-tracking the amendment of the Labour Act whose provisions have been described as grossly unfair and “colonial”.
President Mugabe has summoned Parliamentarians from their recess to consider amendments to the Labour Act this week. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is said to be in the process of terminating contracts for some of its workers while at Lion Encounter the number of casualties could not be ascertained yesterday.

Nearly 20,000 workers have lost their jobs so far following July 17 Supreme Court ruling that allowed for the dismissal of employees on three months’ notice. This position allows companies to lay off workers on three months notice without going through the expensive retrenchment process.
Econet Wireless, Zimpapers, Zinara, Air Zimbabwe and Grain Marketing Board among others have dismissed workers based on the ruling.

Source: Hotels, tour operators dismiss 250 workers (17/08/15)