TOURISM arrivals increased by 17% to 824 922 in the first half of the year despite the uncertainty surrounding yesterday’s watershed election.
According to statistics released by the government this week, in the six months to June, tourist arrivals are estimated to have increased to 824 922 up from 767 939 recorded in the same period last year.
The growth has been attributed to improved arrivals to the increasing regional trade and commerce through indirect transiting and business tourists.
The statistics recorded a 40% increase in business tourists and 65% increase in shopping tourists during the first quarter of the year.
In the same period the market share for overseas arrivals stood at 14%, up by 3% from 11% recorded in the previous year.
Overall arrivals in the period under review rose by 54% on the backdrop of increases from Europe and Asia, with the United Kingdom, France and China leading in terms of arrivals.
Africa in the same period, recorded a 12% increase in arrivals with South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia contributing close to 70% of all arrivals from the region.
Improvement in tourist arrivals and bed occupancy rate is expected to hinge on expected investments as well as improved market accessibility and the reintroduction of direct flights.
Last week, Air Zimbabwe reintroduced direct flights from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg, South Africa, after a three-year suspension.
The tourism sector is also expected to benefit from the suspension of duty on the importation of capital goods and vehicles for tourism operators.
The country will be co-hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly with Zambia in August where 3 000 delegates are expected.
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