Stanley and Livingstone voted Zim's Best Hotel

THE Stanley & Livingstone resort was again this year voted Zimbabwe’s leading hotel for 2010 by World Travel Awards Africa and Indian Ocean.

The five star hotel, owned by Rani Resorts and a local business consortium beat five other star hotels, including four time winners, The Victoria Falls Hotel who were the winners between 2004 and 2008.

Rani Resorts owns seven other tourism resorts across the African continent.

Nominees for the 2010 award included Imba Matombo Hotel, Leopard Rock owned by investment group, LonZim, Matesti Game Reserve, Meikles Hotel, The Victoria Falls Hotel and Victoria Falls Safari Lodge.

The small luxury hotel is an all suite hotel with 16 suites — 10 double suites, of which one is a honeymoon suite, 6 twins including 2 inter-leading rooms consisting of 1 double and 1 twin.

The recognition of the country’s tourism sector comes at a time when the private sector and Government are making frantic efforts to boost the country’s tourism sector, which has potential to turnaround the economy.

Tourism is a key sector in the country’s economic growth and plays an important role in rebranding Zimbabwe’s image.

Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is projected to register a positive growth of 10 percent.

The sector used to contribute an average 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product, 6 percent of formal employment and 10 percent of foreign exchange.

Since 1999, the sector was hard hit by a plethora of challenges that besieged the economy, including negative publicity from the international community and a decade-long economic sanctions regime.

In 2009, while global tourism suffered from the vagaries of the financial turmoil, contracting by 4 percent, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is estimated to have grown by about 6.,5 percent.

Currently, the country’s hotel room capacity for 3 to 5-star hotel range is estimated to be about 10 000 rooms.

Over the past decade, Zimbabwe has not been able to add any new room capacity in its mainline hotels. Out of the 1.9 million international tourist arrivals in 2009, the country realised US$294 million in tourism receipts.

Of these arrivals, 1,7 million were from Africa, with the leading source markets being South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.

The bulk of these international tourist arrivals from African source markets consist of returning Zimba-bweans who are working in neighbouring countries.

As the political and economic situation continues to improve, Zimbabwe is expected to attract an increasing number of high-spending tourists from the US, Europe, Asia and the Oceania region, with the attendant benefits of realising significantly higher tourism receipts.

The removal of negative travel advisories last year by the US, Germany, UK and the European Union at large further improved Zimbabwe’s position to tap into these niche markets.

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