The number of South African tourists to Zimbabwe for the year ended September 30 2014 has fallen drastically, if figures released by a leading Zimbabwean hotel group are anything to go by.
Hotel group and Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed African Sun said tourist arrivals from South Africa into its hotels went down by 17% for the period under review.
Management at the hotel group said arrivals from South Africa declined due to depreciation of the rand, which resulted in a drop in outbound travel from South Africa.
The weakening South African economy was also seen as a reason for the pullback in arrivals.
Zimbabwe’s use of US dollar as its main transaction currency is making it very expensive for tourists coming from South Africa, where the rand has been on a decline for quite a while.
Notwithstanding the falling rand, Zimbabwe is known to be quite an expensive tourist destination in terms of accommodation, meals and activities.
Hotels should cater for all price categories
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi is on record as saying Zimbabwe needs to imitate global trends, where tourism packages now cater for all social classes by offering products at different rates.
He said local operators are pegging the prices of their establishments along international rates resulting in some hotels, lodges and restaurants reporting perennial low occupancies because of lack of product innovation.
Mzembi said such a scenario should change to cater for middle class tourists and locals, to increase the occupancy rates in the sector.
African Sun, however, recorded strong growth in tourist arrivals from the USA, UK, Japan, Germany and India. Fin24