'Demilitarise Grand Reef Airport to spur tourism'

HARARE - Mutare has plenty of business opportunities for those who might want to invest in the city because it has the potential to expand, a top hotelier has said.

Chairperson of the Inns of Zimbabwe and owner of the newly-established Gordon’s Select Breakfast in Mutare and Grace Cottage in Bvumba, Gordon Adams, is optimistic that once an airport is operational in Mutare a lot of investment will pour in.

Adams said it was more expensive and time consuming for tourists, business people and NGOs to access the eastern province by road.

Adams called on government to demilitarise Grand Reef Airport — 22 km west of Mutare — in an effort to make the province accessible to international tourists.

“It is our hope that they will utilise the military air base here to introduce air traffic to Mutare because at the moment tourists, business people and NGOs have had to use the road which takes them quite some time.

“The other mode of transport is the train or the big buses, but the railway is not functional and some people are nervous to travel in the big buses.

“We used to have luxury coaches coming here from other cities but those also stopped — so we have a transport crisis.

“With an airport here it means we will have car or bus hire companies because at the moment they aren’t there at all,” said Adams.

He said because of the international airport in Victoria Falls, traffic has increased, hence his call for an airport in Mutare.

“For tourism to flourish we need airports in major touristic destinations so that tourists and business people can easily fly there because people coming from Europe do not have as much time and they want fast travel.”

Adams added that those wishing to relocate businesses to Mutare will not regret it. “We have the road done from Plumtree to Mutare through Forbes while the Forbes to Beira road is in the process of being implemented. While it used to take seven hours from Forbes to Beira, it now takes only four hours.

“Mutare also boasts of hydro-electric power from Chimanimani and Nyanga. There is also the road infrastructure to get to the port.”

Adams has for years worked in the tourist industry and is using all his experience as a hotelier, hence six months ago established Gordon’s Select Bed and Breakfast in Mutare comprising eight bedrooms and suites.

The facility, built on spacious ground with plenty of secure parking and beds of flowers boasts of comfortable rooms that suit business travellers and tourists alike, with air-con, wi-fi, filter coffee and TV.

While Gordon’s Select Bed and Breakfast is only six months old, Adams says business has surpassed expectation.

“The facility — a boutique bed and breakfast — is built on two plots and I bought it five years ago but 18 months ago I decided to start something for myself, hence this.

“All in all there are eight bedrooms suites all named after my relatives. This place is quite and comfortable with NGOs, business people and tourists.

“It was created with the intention of providing a welcoming and comfortable upmarket environment for business and leisure travellers to the Eastern Highlands, as well as folk travelling to and from Mozambique,” said Adams.

He added that they always receive couples for their honeymoon. “We have suites suitable for such occasions.”

Adams believes tourism is the thermometer for the country’s economy and when business goes down, and then it means the economy is not functioning well.

“I have had to do away with other properties and entities because the economy was not allowing and as such I am concentrating on this facility and another self-service accommodation cottage in Bvumba called Grace Cottage near Inn the Vumba.

“We named this self-catering cottage Grace’s Cottage after (Mrs) Turner because she and husband build the house. The facility has three bedrooms and boasts of a fully equipped kitchen, overlooking Mozambique.”

Grace Cottage is only eight kilometres from Mutare en route to the Bvumba and sleeps six people in one double and two twin bedded rooms with two bathrooms, kitchen, lounge/dining room with fire place, patio and covered braai area.

Adams is also chairperson of Best of Zimbabwe a collection of leading hospitality operations in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique.

“These are linked by a commitment to affordability, high operational standards and proximity to some of the finest visitor attractions in the region.

“Created and led by the Inns of Zimbabwe group, Best of Zimbabwe includes within its overall portfolio a wide range of accommodation types and destinations, as well as dining services.

“Common to all operations is the Insider Lifestyle Card, which affords Zimbabwean residents discounts on accommodation and other selected services.”

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