African Sun projects uptick in business from elections

Hospitality group African Sun Limited says there are promising prospects of a business upturn buoyed by increased hotel bookings during the forthcoming general elections and positive impact of the removal of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The hospitality industry is among the various sectors that were seriously affected by the global pandemic as countries imposed travel restrictions.

On May 5, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Covid-19 was no longer a “public health emergency of international concern and many countries had already removed travel restrictions, with the global tourism sector already showing signs of a rebound.

Company secretary and governance executive Venon Musimbe, in a trading update for the quarter to March 2023, said while concerns about the macroeconomic environment persisted both locally and globally, there were promising prospects of a business upturn.

“We anticipate improvements in occupancies at many of our hotels driven largely by election business and remaining “pent-up” demand arising from overdue events and conferences.

“In addition, we expect to see continued improvements to business and corporate transient demand as businesses continue to make progress toward normal travel patterns including a perceptible acceleration in international travel, particularly for our Victoria Falls hotels,” he said.

Mr Musimbe said in line with the company’s vision to be the leading service provider in hospitality and leisure operations in Africa, by providing outstanding hospitality experiences, it remains focused on a strategy to upscale the state of properties through ongoing various refurbishment programmes.

He said the group anticipated completing the US$4,2 million Hwange Safari Lodge 100 rooms refurbishment during the second quarter of the current year.

“The group will continue to monitor and respond to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the current operating environment,” he said.

For the quarter under review, revenue at US$ 7,9 million was down 2 percentage points compared to the same period last year.

Mr Musimbe said the decline was largely due to depressed business volumes with occupancy at 39 percent being 3 percentage points lower than the comparable period.

“Both of our hotel operating segments experienced declines in occupancy levels with City Hotels posting a combined 51 percent whilst Resort Hotels achieved 23 percent.

“Despite the waning impact of Covid-19 and the concomitant announcement by the World Health Organisation that it was no longer a public health emergency of international concern, foreign business remains depressed at 20 percent whilst domestic guests anchor business performance with a contribution of 80 percent,” he said.

In line with the group’s strategy to exit non-core assets, the group successfully exited its investment in Dawn Property Consultancy during the quarter under review.

African Sun has since migrated its shares from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX).

The Herald

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