19 February 2018

Zimbabwe: RTG Mulls Expansion

Listed hospitality group Rainbow Tourism Group is aggressively looking for expansion opportunities on projected growth in room demand after recent political developments that have brought a new ray of hope into the local market, CEO Tendai Madziwanyika has said.

He projects Zimbabwe could in a year's time struggle to meet room demand. With a lot of caution and emphasis on value creation for its investors, Mr Madziwanyika said, the group has appetite to occupy space created by growing room demand.

Zimbabwe lagged behind global tourism growth in the past two decades and missed its opportunities to double its room stock.

"Meanwhile, as a company, we are aggressively looking for expansion opportunities because that is the way to go. We definitely need to expand because we have a deficit in terms of hotel infrastructure," Madziwanyika told The Herald Business on the sidelines of its RTG Gateway launch on Thursday.

Mr Madziwanyika projects increased demand for Zimbabwe's tourism product on renewed interest from a deliberate re-engagement and pro economic thrust in President Mnagagwa's Government. Already, he said, the group registered growth in the festive season and also in the first two months of 2018 compared to last year.

"Christmas was very good, I can say that December was very good, even January was also quite good. The last few months has seen "a lot of optimism not only among locals but even foreigners because saw a lot of tourists coming into our city hotels and even in Victoria Falls," Mr Madziwanyika said.

He said the conferencing business had also boomed with government, companies and non-governmental organisation restrategising.

"I will give you a very interesting statistic, average growth in tourism per year has been 4 percent. In fact last year global tourism grew by 7 percent. If you were to look at 7 percent per annum it means if you were compounding your growth at 4 percent, in about 17 years or so you would have doubled.

So in other words, if we had been in step with global trends of growth, it means by now we should have doubled our room stock," said the RTG CEO.Mr Madziwanyika said, based on his projections, Zimbabwe could fail to meet room demand in a year.

"But as you know, there is literally no investment in terms of brick and mortar, building new hotels and so forth, the investment has been very little. What I suspect is that as the year continues, the growth rates will be amazing. I think that in about a year it's going to become evident that we may experience constraints in terms of availability of rooms," he said.

"This is why we decided in the meanwhile to also adopt the Air BnB model to say you may not want to stay in a hotel, but you can stay in a house. It gives people an opportunity to stay in a house when they fail to get accommodation in a hotel."

To grow the industry's capacity, he said, RTG launched the RTG Gateway, an integrated mobile and internet application which allows users to browse, book and pay for accommodation, meals, and airport transfers among other services. RTG has signed up over 200 partners- including 40 houses, 50 lodges and 72 virtual partners - on the platform which comes after another initiative RTG Virtual of 2014. By 2017. RTG Virtual channelled business worth over $1,5 million, 10 percent of which comes to the group as commission.

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