From : Newsday.co.zw
19 February 2013
AFRICA Albida Tourism (AAT) says the country’s tourism industry is “turning a very positive corner” and the growing optimism is encouraging the group to continue investing in new and upgraded products.
AAT chief executive Ross Kennedy last week indicated that in addition to the group’s $3 million investment in 2012, further upgrades were budgeted for this year, including the refurbishment of all 72 rooms at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.
“There is no question that Victoria Falls has renewed and regained its status as a major African tourism hub,” Kennedy said.
“All the signs are that Zimbabwe tourism is turning a corner and this is reflected in many varied ways.
“Our own AAT group occupancies, across four properties, grew in 2012 and 2013 forecasts and our forward books show continued growth.
“We are very optimistic about the Zimbabwe tourism industry at large.”
Kennedy said positive developments in the sector were mirrored by the arrival of international airlines Emirates and Dutch KLM back into Harare, the ongoing upgrading of the Victoria Falls International Airport and the general improvement of product and property in the resort town.
“Some of this is on the back of the massive boost that will flow with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Victoria Falls and Livingstone in August — a supreme vote of global confidence in our extraordinary and world-class destination,” he said.
The AAT chief predicted that the Victoria Falls Airport would, in the near future, see the arrival of international airlines on a direct basis and would make a significant impact on the tourism industry.
“Other parties are also sensing the moment and are investing in infrastructure, not only in Victoria Falls, but elsewhere in Zimbabwe and this boosts confidence all round,” he said.
Apart from restyling all rooms at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, AAT plans to improve the Boma restaurant and also upgrade the outdoor areas of all eight luxury suites at the five-star Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana.
“We’re on a growth path,” said Kennedy. “We have a number of other exciting projects in the pipeline that will unfold this year.
“We intend to cement our position as one of the foremost tourism operators in Zimbabwe and the key factors will be to continue to drive standards, quality, training and investment in people.
“If you have the right skills and attitude in place, the success of your business and service delivery follow.
“We also maximise our sales and marketing spend and get out on the road to source new markets, but always ensuring we drive service and product quality to the highest level,” he said.
AAT is a hospitality group offering the cream of Southern African tourism products, with the award-winning Victoria Falls Safari Lodge as its flagship property. It operates three divisions namely hospitality, restaurants and parks.