Tourism arrivals continue to soar

ZIMBABWE recorded a 12% increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of the year to
859 995 compared to 767 393 registered in the same period the previous year, latest figures from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) show.

Gamma Mudarikiri

ZTA said the growth was a testimony of the country’s improved destination image. The tourism body is anticipating a further increase in arrivals in the second half of the year helped by the successful hosting of the United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) General Assembly in Victoria Falls last month which saw thousands of foreign delegates convening.

ZTA also attributed the increase in tourist arrivals to the growing trade and commerce in the region through activities of business tourists, cross-border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from Democratic Republic Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

The tourism authority said the July 31 elections which witnessed President Robert Mugabe controversially romping into victory, had little effect on tourist arrivals with a few exceptions such as Botswana, Argentina, US, Singapore, Germany, Italy and Israel whose arrivals rose in the first quarter, but declined in the second quarter of 2013.

The market share for overseas arrivals into Zimbabwe stood at 13% compared to the market share for African arrivals, at 87%.

According to ZTA, the combined arrivals from all overseas markets rose by 20% this year compared to last year, on the backdrop of increases from Europe which stood at 26% and Asia at 60%, with UK, France and China dominating in terms of arrivals.

Mainland Africa recorded 11% increase in arrivals to 749 301 up from 675 727 recorded in the same period last year with South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia contributing over 70% of all arrivals from this region.

Arrivals from the Americas declined by 3%, to 23 764 on the background of a 6% decline in United States arrivals. Asia recorded a 60% growth in arrivals into Zimbabwe dominated by visits from China which grew 310%. In the same period Europe recorded a 26% growth in arrivals, United Kingdom 72% while France registered 76% growth. The Middle East declined by 7%, with the major market Israel tumbling by 9% during the period under review. Oceania grew by 8% buoyed by Australia which is the only market with positive results from this region, while New Zealand recorded a 37% decline.
In the same period under review average hotel room occupancy levels rose by two percentage points to 41%, up from 39% achieved in 2012.

However, average hotel bed occupancy levels, contracted by five percentage points to 32% down from 37% recorded in the same period last year.

Harare and Masvingo recorded significant decline in occupancies largely due to reduced conferencing activities during the first half of 2013 as compared to 2012 whose whole length had constitution-making activities which had spilled over from 2011.

Notable increases were recorded in Victoria Falls and the Midlands along with Hwange, Nyanga and Bulawayo which had modest increases. Increases in Victoria Falls during the period were attributed to clients rescheduling their intended bookings to earlier in the year, so as to avoid the “hustle and bustle” connected with UNWTO General Assembly.

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