Tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s prime resort, is seen surging 15% up above last year due to a stable political environment in the country, an official has said.
Clement Mukwasi, president of the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators, told NewsDay that the tourism industry was on a recovering path.
“Things look good at the moment as we have seen a surge in tourist arrivals between June and July attributed to the South African school holidays. Last month only, we recorded a 23% growth in tourist arrivals above last year in the same period, which is a very good development,” said Mukwasi who is an executive of the Shear water Adventures group.
“Between now and December, we would be very busy because of Australian, European and Asian markets and we are projecting an annual average of 15% above last year. Numbers are also expected to swell after the completion of Victoria Falls Airport,” he added.
Mukwasi said due to political stability in Southern African countries, tourist arrivals from traditional markets such as Australia, Asia, Europe and the US had started turning to Zimbabwe.
However, Mukwasi said the industry needed to further stretch its capacities.
He said some players in the tourism industry would not recover following the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in March last year.
“We have companies that were heavily affected by the Ebola virus out-break in West Africa and are currently overburdened by debts as there were lots of trip cancellations. As such, some of them might not be able to recover as they are insolvent,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority last year said Zimbabwe lost business worth $6 million since the outbreak of the highly contagious virus in March which has resulted in limited international travel.
The virus triggered a spate of trip cancellations, while several foreign buyers withdrew from Zimbabwe’s premier tourism expo last year.
Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals increased by 2,6% to 1 880 028 in 2014 from 1 832 583 recorded the previous year, but the figure was still below the overall regional growth rate.
The country recorded a marginal 3% decline in total annual earnings to $827 million from $856 million in 2013.