THE government is in the process of developing an online product, a platform that will offer home stays and eateries for international tourists to choose from when visiting Zimbabwe.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a media cocktail last week, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Prisca Mupfumira, said the ministry had been on a drive to register small lodges, households, restaurants and other eateries to an online product they were developing.
“We are in the process of registering online all these small accommodation facilities, the SMEs and ensure that at a punch of a button, that in Highfield or Mbare (for example) there is such a home away from the hotel,” she said.
“We are working on that concept; we are registering each and every one. The lodges, in particular, we know that there are a lot of them. We are even going on SMS campaign to find out where there is a lodge, we will register them and facilitate a revolving fund to help them so that they come up with a quality product, where the tourists coming to Zimbabwe do not necessarily depend on the hotels and get to a homely situation. It’s a work in progress.”
The concept is similar to American company Airbnb, an online marketplace and hospitality service, which people use to lease or rent short-term lodging while Airbnb earns revenue by charging commission.
The Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) already has 50 homestays on its RTG Gateway application and targets 500 home owners by year end.
Registration began two months ago with the government expected to have completed the online product by July. The product is meant to develop cheaper accommodation for tourists.
Currently, the types of accommodation offered in the country include hotels, backpackers, lodges, homestays, vacation rentals, caravanning and camping, and bed and breakfast establishments. They are expected to feature on the online product being done by government.
Traditional accommodation in the country’s key tourist destinations Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Kariba, Gonarezhou National Park, Eastern Highlands, the Great Zimbabwe Monument, and Nyanga is expensive compared locally and regionally.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president, Tich Hwingwiri said the local product was a bit high due to high rates and tariffs.
“… the issue of rates and how pricey they are is an issue which requires some serious dialogue because it is an input cost issue, so I think at the end of the day there are a lot of other costs that come into it which hoteliers also put as the point of argument. That is why it is an input cost and we need everyone to play their part to ensure the end product becomes affordable,” Hwingwiri said.