Tourism in Zimbabwe likely to rebound in 2014

Published on : Thursday, January 2, 2014

download-4Tourism in Zimbabwe will rebound this year to pre-2000 levels when growth of the sector averaged between 10 to 15 percent per annum, says Inbound Tour Operators of Zimbabwe president Tich Mudzonga.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Tourism Trends and Statistics report, the country recorded a 12 per cent increase in arrivals in the first half of 2013.
Tourism is on the recovery path following a slump experienced over the past years mainly because of the negative publicity the country was receiving in the western media.
Mudzonga told New Ziana in Harare on Wednesday that growth had been spurred by the successful hosting of the 20th United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly at Victoria Falls in 2013.
“The UNWTO boosted tourism in a big way because we even went onto the world map as the best destination and immediately the sector started getting inquiries. Around November 2013, the number of tourists to Victoria Falls was similar to that of the 1997 to 1999 period,” he said.
The notable improvement in business and leisure tourist arrivals confirmed the onset of recovery of tourism in the country, following years of isolation, Mudzonga said.
The resumption of service for the Victoria Falls route by the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, also contributed to higher tourist arrivals at the resort town, he added. “We are back to the period before 1999 in terms of visitors, especially for Victoria Falls, so we expect that in 2014 it will get better,” he said.
Mudzonga said almost all major tourist resorts were busy and most hotels were fully occupied. Both domestic and foreign tourists visited local resorts during the year-end festive holidays.
“Before we used to just get Germans, Britons and Americans but now even Australians are coming in big numbers as well as those from Asian countries,” said Mudzonga.
In the 2014 National Budget presented in Parliament last December, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government would continue to finance marketing efforts, targeting participation in international fairs and expos and opening of tourism offices in major source markets.
Analysts have said the peaceful environment which existed before and after Zimbabwe’s elections last year presented opportunities to further market the country as a safe tourist destination.
Chinamasa said the government would take advantage of the prevailing conducive environment to further promote Zimbabwe in untapped markets for tourists.
Zimbabwe’s tourism sector earned 300 million USD revenue in 2012.

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