Monday, 8 February 2016

Victoria Falls to see recovery in 2016

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, experienced a 20% drop in tourist arrivals in 2015 compared with 2014 according to the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO). However, operators are confident that 2016 will be better, thanks in part to the new airport.
Clement Mukwasi, EATSO President, told Zimbabwe’s NewsDay the after effects of the Ebola virus and a tax on foreign tourists were the main causes of the drop.
Although tour operators and product owners have confirmed that tourism has been down, Africa Albida Tourism CE Ross Kennedy argues tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe and the Victoria Falls were not down 20%. "According to hotel statistics kept by ten leading hotels in Victoria Falls, room occupancy was only down 2% between 2014 and 2015, and entry numbers to the Victoria Falls Rainforest were down 2,6% year on year.
Kennedy adds that he did notice a downturn in tourism in 2015, but this was rescued in November and December by a significant rise in visitor numbers. He says: “If it had not been for this surge in the last couple of months in 2015, tourist numbers would have been 8% down for the year.”

Trish Mambinge, spokesperson for Shearwater Victoria Falls, also reported that numbers were down. She told Tourism Update that Ebola had been the main reason cited for cancelled trips.
Sally Wynn, Director Wild Zambezi, agreed that the Ebola-scare had had a major impact, especially since international travellers tended to plan well in advance. “People also believe that the SA visa situation has had an effect, as well as the dropping rates of the euro, the Australian dollar and the rand against the US$,” she added.
“We are quite positive about 2016,” said Mambinge. “Future bookings are looking good and there has also been a great interest shown by the big markets that had stopped or reduced travel to Zimbabwe.”
“Obviously we hope for better, especially with the new Vic Falls International Airport coming online,” said Wynn. She added that an improvement in SA’s visa situation and a ‘properly sorted’ KAZA UniVisa between the countries in the region, would also boost tourism.
She warned, however, that the high value of the US$ compared with other currencies could be challenging for Zimbabwe. “It is difficult for tourism here to cut costs in the face of high living expenses and the current uncertain political and economic environment.”
Source: Victoria Falls to see recovery in 2016 (02/02/16)

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