THE building that housed the Holiday Inn Beitbridge Express has been put on the market for $4 million, six years after the operation collapsed, businessdigest implemented this week.
The sale, which has been confirmed by a real estate agent, becomes the latest demonstration that there could be no room for big brands in the border town – a gateway to South Africa, strategically located between the major Zimbabwean and South African national parks.
The three-star property, which was operated by Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed leisure chain African Sun Limited (ASL), collapsed in 2016 after traffic to the border town plummeted, tourists avoid Zimbabwe for a myriad of reasons.
The government had imposed a 15% tax on tourists, a move that made Zimbabwe one of the most expensive destinations in the region.
And apart from the multiple roadblocks that were erected along the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare highway under the regime of late strongman Robert Mugabe, the transnational thoroughfare posed a hazard to passengers after the government failed to fix it for several decades.
The Holiday Inn Beitbridge Express, along with the Rainbow Tourism Group’s Rainbow Beitbridge Hotel, which also closed around the same time, had been strategically positioned to attract travelers from South Africa who would be driving overnight to Zimbabwean destinations.
But the big players faced fierce competition from smaller properties in the border town.
After ASL vacated the property, it was turned into an office building for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority office, according to Nancy Memory Machedze, a representative for the agency with a mandate to scout the Holiday Inn Express Beitbridge up for grabs for buyers.
“The hotel is now for sale,” Machedze told businessdigest.
“We are asking for $3.9 million. It is built on 7.9 hectares and has over 100 rooms. At the moment it is leased by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). »
The hotel was built during the boom times in Zimbabwe’s tourism industry in the late 1990s.
It became the center of world attraction during the three-hour solar eclipse on June 21, 2001 whose path was over the Limpopo River and best viewed from Beitbridge or Kruger National Park in South Africa.
In Zimbabwe, the ideal place to see the show was at the property.
But after it collapsed in 2016, locals and other hotel and restaurant industry consultants said the big players had put a price on themselves.
All over Limpopo in South Africa, businesses of the same size were flourishing.
During a visit to Beitbridge in June, Tourism Minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu said he hoped the building that housed the two hotels would be put to good use.
He said the most important thing would be for them to find investors to promote tourism in southern Zimbabwe.
In a recent interview with businessdigestthe minister said there have been many positive developments in the tourism sector since the beginning of the year.
The industry has been hardest hit by the pandemic shutdowns, which hit the country from 2020.
“In the first quarter of the year, international tourist arrivals increased by 93% to 126,955 from 65,882 during the same period in 2021,” Ndhlovu said in May.
“There was positive performance across the board, including domestic tourism and utilization of accommodation facilities. For example, average hotel utilization increased by 20 percentage points, from 14% in 2021 at 34% this year.
“Based on this positive performance in the first quarter, the tourism sector should fare much better in 2022 compared to 2021,” he added.
Beitbridge lies between Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa.