TOURIST arrivals into Zimbabwe climbed by 16 percent during the first half of 2011 to 657 302, from 568 706 during the six months to June 2010, driven by significant easing of the global financial crisis, a new report said this week.
The growth in arrivals was led by Africa, which pushed volumes up by 11 percent to 567 000, from 510 300 during the prior comparative period in 2010.
However, South Africa, the continent’s largest tourist market, declined by 33 percent, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)’s Tourism Trends and Statistics Report released on Tuesday.
“Zimbabwe recorded a 16 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2011,” the ZTA said.
“The continued growth in arrivals can be attributed to the increased confidence in Zimbabwe as a tourist destination. This has been necessitated (by) continued marketing efforts by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. The economic recovery by the country and the increased trade within the region also contributed significantly to this increase,” the report added.
Hotel room occupancy levels increased to 38 percent during the review period from 35 percent during the six months ending June 2010, with holiday travelers dominating.
Business travelers increased by 44 percent to 136 000.
Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial power that led an aggressive global onslaught against the country’s political establishment over a chaotic land reform programme that resulted in a sharp fall in foreign tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe, reported a 141 percent rise in arrivals at 10 720.
The report indicated that a marked recovery of Zimbabwe’s economy since dollarisation in 2009, significant improvements in international trade and aggressive marketing strategies had helped restore tourist confidence on Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s economy grew by 8,1 percent in 2010 and was projected to grow by 9,3 percent in 2011, bolstering domestic tourism as disposable incomes improved. Fourteen percent of arrivals during the review period were overseas tourists, from 10 percent during the first half of 2010.
The Americas, where the ZTA had intensified its marketing drive and opened a marketing office in Brazil, together with a plan to lure about 14 million African Americans in the United States, had a 37 percent rise in Zimbabwe arrivals to 22 290.
Asia reported a 104 percent increase, Europe increased by 51 percent, the Middle East increased by 125 percent.
Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi, had a highly publicised trip to Iran during this period.
The ZTA said there were positive signals of a significant rise in arrivals by year-end.
“The year 2011 promises to bring positive results to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry in line with the anticipated growth in international tourist arrivals by between four and five percent and the regional growth of 13 percent,” the ZTA said.
“Tourist trends are expected to rise following the stabilisation of the economy and the demand resulting from the expected increase in arrivals in 2011,” said the authority.
Source: Tourist arrivals up 16 percent (11/11/11)