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ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed hospitality chain, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) says occupancy levels across its hotels were flat during the nine months to September 30.

In a trading update, the firm said COVID-19-induced travel restrictions continued to dictate developments in the sector.

Tourism industry players are among the worst affected by the pandemic, which have forced governments to apply restrictions on travel.

RTG said occupancies for its hotels closed at 24% during the period, compared to 23% last year.

“The tightened level four lockdown restrictions in July and August affected business operations during the third quarter,” RTG said.

During this period, restrictions on intercity travel and gatherings affected the business, particularly conferencing activities on the domestic market.

This, said RTG, is in contrast to the second quarter which experienced better business volumes due to the near-to-normal trading conditions under level two lockdown.

Despite the setback, the group generally witnessed a surge in volumes during the third quarter compared to the same period in 2020.

The group’s Gateway Stream division witnessed a surge in volumes on its various channels during the quarter compared to all other quarters in the year with business volumes growing 55% above the comparative quarter in 2020.

The Gateway Stream performance was anchored on Gateway Stream rooms, selling hotel rooms not owned by RTG which were equivalent to 30% of the total RTG hotel rooms sold during the third quarter while other channels such as groceries, music and hardware continued growing.

RTG said it continued to navigate the current realities thrust upon the operating environment by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the same time the group also said a focus on costs as complemented by speed in exploiting emerging revenue opportunities enabled the company to register strong performance in the quarter.

“The group managed to access foreign currency through the auction system thereby easing the burden on some of its foreign currency requirements,” RTG said.

Going forward, RTG remains optimistic about prospects of the tourism industry in the short to medium term.

This is despite warnings of a possible fourth wave.

The group said the stability in the operating environment was a positive development, expected to translate to increased activities.

“The performance post the relaxation of the lockdown measures has positioned the group on a recovery trajectory. International airlines such as British Airways have resumed flights to Victoria falls with Qatar Airways coming to Harare for the first time. These developments should see growth in activity in Victoria Falls destination,” RTG said.

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