The government this week met hotel owners in Bulawayo to express its disappointment over the hike in accommodation costs to coincide with the upcoming Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) period.
Some leading Bulawayo hotels and lodges have increased their rates by as much as 350 percent ahead of the annual trade expo, which starts 23 and ends 27 this month.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Industry and Commerce Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu said the increases were killing the tourism sector.
“We held a meeting with them (hoteliers) indicating our concern to them in the manner they are treating ZITF clients. They might look at ZITF as a low hanging fruit but certainly it does not augur well for the survival and growth of the sector,” said the minister.
Ndlovu said instead of continuing to increase the accommodation rates, hotels should be aggressively marketing the expo.
“Hotels should be marketing ZITF instead of overcharging clients. The first issue which they should address is the issue of rates which I am told are now in the region of $1 500 per day.
“The second issue is that of block booking. They are insisting on block booking for the duration of the trade fair. They are saying clients cannot book for few days,” he said.
Ndlovu added, “The Minister of Tourism is not really amused as well. The hoteliers have indicated to us that they will meet among themselves and get back to government.
“We are quite hopeful of a positive outcome from that meeting.”
Since the presentation of the 2019 budget by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube late last year, prices of goods and services pegged in the local RTGS currency have shot through the roof and continue to increase.
Business owners are either using fixed rates for US dollars or four times the US dollar prices if one is transacting in the much resented local currency.
Zimbabwean businesses insist they are trying to protect their enterprises in the wake of rising inflation.