Nkosilathi Sibanda and Peter Matika
HOSPITALITY facilities that are not adhering to proper licensing and registration procedures face the possibility of being closed as authorities embark on an exercise to evaluate standards in the tourism sector.
Licensing is meant to pave way for the re-grading of tourist facilities countrywide. In a bid to restore sanity, the Hospitality Association Zimbabwe, Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority have embarked on a countrywide inspection of tourism facilities.
That also follows a Government decision to re-grade hospitality facilities and bar unlicensed operators.
In an interview, HAZ president Mr Innocent Manyera said the body was not happy with low standards among some of the operators and the mushrooming of unregistered hospitality facilities.
“We are faced with a situation where the industry has a number of companies that are not licensed. In fact, many are operating without our knowledge.
As part of our drive to re-brand the tourism sector, we are commencing the first phase of licence inspection and registration. Before anyone can claim to offer tourist services, they must obtain a licence. This is principally done to assess the level of service and also make way for the re-grading of hotels and lodges,” he said.
He said the inspection was long overdue and HAZ in conjunction with ZTA wanted to correct the anomaly where local and foreign holiday makers are over-charged for poor quality service.
“In essence, the licensing exercise is set to bring accountability to the tourism sector. This is also in the interest of the tourist. We would not want to lose revenue because of such irregularities.
We want to have records of the hospitality stock in the form of room life in hotels. Licensing makes it easier for us to know the accommodation capacity we have in the country,” said Mr Manyera.
Mr Manyera said once the licence inspection was complete, hotels would then be re-graded. In an interview, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Prisca Mupfumira said the Government would make sure that all unlicensed operators were brought to book.
“The licensing and registration exercise is underway. This is to ensure that we instil competitiveness in the sector. The tourism industry needs to shake up and aim high. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other stakeholders are in the process of checking on all unregistered operators,” she said.
Tourism companies that operate without licences are contravening the Tourism Act Chapter 14:20 of 1996.
Meanwhile, ZTA has said it has already started raiding some of the unlicensed operators.
ZTA head of standards and grading executive Mr Farai Utete said the blitz was aimed at ensuring that players in the sector register their facilities.
“The blitz was launched following the announcement by the Minister (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) on 12 January this year, where she was encouraging unregistered operators to ensure they register their businesses between January and March 2018. She instructed ZTA and relevant arms of the law to undertake a blitz on all unregistered operators,” said Mr Utete.
“The blitz is ongoing and is being carried out across the country. In terms of statutory 106 of 1996 it sets out that facilities in the hospitality industry should be registered.
Facilities include conference organisers, restaurants, tour operators, hotels, lodges, travel agents hunting operators among many other interested stakeholders.”