African Sun Limited (ASL), leading tourism and hospitality player, has begun the process of reopening in phases its hotels across the country, which had been shut since March 30 when President Emmerson Mnangagwa put the country on lockdown as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
During the initial 21-day lockdown, the group temporarily closed all its 11 hotels and two casinos effective 30 March 2020.
Under level two of Zimbabwe’s lockdown, which took effect on May 4, businesses were allowed to resume operations but under strict guidelines and conditions set by the government.
In a latest trading update issued this week, ASL company secretary, Venon Musimbe, said under level two, in line with the relaxation of the lockdown measures, the group took a decision to reopen its hotels on a phased approach.
“Under phase one, four hotels being Holiday Inn Harare, Holiday Inn Mutare, Holiday Inn Bulawayo and Great Zimbabwe Hotel, were reopened on 11 May 2020,” said Musimbe.
“The group implemented various health and safety measures as guided by World Health Organisation, InterContinental Hotels Group and government at its hotels.”
The COVID-19-induced lockdowns and travel restrictions, Musimbe said, had resulted in significantly reduced occupancies, with the month of April 2020 recording nil for all their hotels.
“As of 6 May 2020, our statistics have shown that we have had 31 907 room nights cancelled, being quite substantial for the business,” bemoaned Musimbe.
“The group anticipates continued disruption to travel and tourism in the months ahead, and forward visibility on the timing and shape of improvements in demand remains very limited.” He however said ASL was taking decisive action to protect the core of its business until the crisis passes and travel resumes.
“The Group expects domestic business largely driven by government and non-governmental organisations programmes centred on COVID-19 health responses and hunger alleviation to resume immediately,” he said.
“Taking into account the global trends, management expects international business to gradually resume starting from July as airlines rebuild their networks. Business contingency plans as recently published in our 2019 financial statements have been implemented at all levels and the group continues to adjust these as required.”