According to the latest report titled “Tourism Trends and Statistics Report 2010”, which was prepared by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) market research and product development division, the effects and after effects of last year’s world soccer jamboree — held in Africa for the first time — largely contributed to the significant rise in tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy levels.
The report indicates that tourist arrivals were 2 239 165, representing an 11 percent increase from the 2009 figure of 2 017 264; pushing up tourism receipts to US$634 million from US$523 million recorded in 2009, representing a 21 percent increase from the comparative period.
Of the 2 239 165 arrivals received by Zimbabwe in 2010, Africa contributed 87 percent followed by Europe (6 percent), the Americas (3 percent) and Asia (2 percent). The Oceania and Middle East contributed less than 2 percent.
Average hotel room occupancy levels also increased from 46 percent to 52 percent while average bed occupancy levels rose from 35 percent to 36 percent last year compared to 2009.
Almost all of the country’s regions experienced increases in room occupancy levels except Harare and Midlands. Harare and Bulawayo and other regions recorded increases in bed occupancy except Beitbridge that remained unchanged.
The border town of Beitbridge had the highest room (62 percent) and bed (59 percent) occupancy rates while Victoria Falls remained with the highest foreign clientele composition at 63 percent probably because almost all foreign tourists want to catch a glimpse of the majestic Victoria Falls.
In interview last week, ZTA head of public relations and corporate communications Mr Sugar Chagonda confirmed that Zimbabwe’s tourism sector recorded an increase in arrivals spurred by some of its Southern
African markets such as South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.
“Most of our tourists came from neighbouring countries and South Africa remains the major source market in Africa with a market share of 70 percent of arrivals from the African continent.
“The increase is attributed to an increase in tourist arrivals in 2010 to our vigorous marketing campaigns both in traditional and potential source markets. The economic stability obtaining in the country since 2009 is also a major contributor to the rise in tourist arrivals and room occupancy levels.
“It is also important to note that the peace prevailing in the country since the consummation of the inclusive Government has played a pivotal role in luring tourists. A lot of tourists have changed their perception of Zimbabwe since the formation of the inclusive Government,” said Mr Chagonda.
The report indicates that tourist arrivals from the Americas rose by 19 percent in 2010 with the United States, arguably the country’s second biggest rabid critic after the United Kingdom, increasing arrivals by 30 percent.
The US continues to lead as the major overseas source market for Zimbabwe while Britain has maintained second position since 2006.
It is believed the 2010 soccer World Cup, “to some extent”, resulted in an increase in Mexican and Argentinian arrivals. However, the Asian region recorded a 36 percent decline in arrivals with all major markets except Japan and Malaysia recording a decline in the period under review.
Statistics show that Japan is the largest Asian market for Zimbabwe followed by China with a market share of 25 percent.
Europe also recorded a 20 percent decline last year with most major markets recording declines in tourist arrivals. Spain had the highest increase in arrivals (70 percent) followed by Britain and Ireland.
Going forward, Mr Chagonda reckons the country’s tourism sector has the potential to do better and probably contribute significantly to Gross Domestic Product if Government supports the ZTA’s marketing initiatives.
“I still feel we can do better as an industry if Government avails more funds for the Tourism Board’s marketing initiatives. There is no doubt that funds are heavily required to enable the ZTA to attend travel shows around the world.
“Last year, we requested for US$12,5 million from Treasury but we only got US$400 000 which is not enough for us to remain visible in source and potential markets. So far this year, we have taken our marketing of the country to Russia, China, Germany and recently the Seychelles where we did well,” said Mr Chagonda.
The report suggests that 2011 promises to bring positive results to the country’s tourism industry in line with the anticipated growth in international tourist arrivals by between 4 percent and 5 percent riding on the back of economic stability.
Source: Tourist arrivals rise by 11 percent (26/3/11)