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BULAWAYO has again been hit hard by a shortage of accommodation ahead of the 55th Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), set to kick off on Tuesday.A survey by this paper revealed that the city had virtually run out of accommodation as hotels such as Cresta Churchill, Holiday Inn and Rainbow were fully booked.

“We are already fully booked this week. The people booked the rooms sometime in January while others booked last year,” said one official at Rainbow Hotel in the city. Most of the lodges in the city were also fully booked ahead of the trade showcase.

Some enterprising city residents in the nearby suburbs such as Burnside, Hillside and Morningside were taking aantage of the crisis by temporarily renting out their houses at high rates. “I am renting out three rooms to ZITF visitors. I am charging US$30 per room per day,” said Sibusiso Gumede from Montrose suburb.

The accommodation challenge comes despite promises by ZITF Company chairman Bekithemba Nkomo that the accommodation problems would be a thing of the past this year. He said the company would engage other stakeholders to deal with the possible challenge of accommodation space.

“We have gone into a strategic alliance with Ecological Safaris and are handling the accommodation issue for our visitors. “We see it as a way of resolving the problem,” Nkomo told The Standard recently. However, many visitors were having challenges in securing accommodation.

Accommodation challenges emerge during the ZTIF period, mainly due to the increased number of visitors. Over the past years there have been calls for the construction of a new hotel in Bulawayo.

But there has been no serious response mainly due to deteriorating economic conditions, being fuelled by company closures in the country’s once industrial hub. The 55th edition of the trade fair will run from April 22 to 26, under the theme, New Ideas to New Heights.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard

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