TOURIST arrivals for the First Quarter increased by six percent from 450 572 in 2016 to 479 718 this year, with the hotel occupancy rate up two percent to 38 percent.
This is according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)’s First Quarter Tourism Performance Highlights released this week.
The authority attributed the increase to the five percent rise in arrivals from mainland Africa.
Mainland Africa, which has the bulk of arrivals into the country at 84 percent, recorded a five percent increase, accounting for 400 290 tourists against 380 790 in 2016 although arrivals from neighboring South Africa remained stagnant.
ZTA said this was of great concern considering that South Africa was Zimbabwe’s major market.
“This calls for serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues especially at Beitbridge. There is also need to seriously look at upgrading roads especially the Harare Beitbridge highway,” it said
Arrivals from Europe, which had declined by 18 percent in 2016, rose this year by 25 percent with 35 381 visitors compared to last year’s 27 433, with France, at 76 percent, contributing the bulk of the visitors followed by UK with 13 percent and Germany on eight percent.
“The increase in European arrivals is a positive development considering the fact that this region closed with an 18% decline in 2016. The European market share stood at 7% and is second only to Africa, thus Europe, remains as the greatest overseas market for the country.
While the arrivals from Europe increased, the country still has a long way to go in terms of attracting arrivals from this market, this is especially so as the country’s neighbour South Africa recorded 102 155 arrivals from UK alone in the first two months of 2017,” ZTA said.
Tourists from the Americas increased by three percent from 22 620 last year to 23 297 this quarter although the figures are way below those arriving in neighboring South Africa.
“It should be important to note that while Zimbabwe received 23 297 arrivals, neighboring South Africa received 78 548 in the first 2 months alone,” the ZTA noted.
Despite being the least contributor to tourist arrivals into the country at just one percent, the Midlands recorded a significant increase of 41 percent buoyed by a 48 percent increase in arrivals from Israel.
Asia was the only market to record a decline, with arrivals weakening by four percent from 14 004 to 13 385.
“The decline mainly came as a result of the poor performance of China (43%) in the first three months of the year. On the contrary, Asian arrivals into South Africa are on the increase based on the available figures for January and February 2017. South Africa has already received over 52 319 Asian arrivals and over 21 137 Chinese arrivals in the first two months,” the ZTA said.
The average national hotel room occupancy rate stood at 38 percent this year from last year’s 36 percent, with Harare having the highest average occupancy of 54 percent despite declining by two p
ZTA attributed the negative growth to the reduced number of foreign tourists utilizing accommodation facilities.
Masvingo, with an occupancy rate of 49 percent had the second highest in the country, followed by Bulawayo with 44 percent and Victoria Falls 37 percent.
Source: Tourist arrivals up 6 percent for First Quarter (12/07/17)