Tourism report out February

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says the report on tourism industry’s performance in 2012 will be out by end of February.

The report — which gives detail on statistics and receipts recorded last year — is key in gauging recovery of the sector.

Zimbabwe’s tourism sector has been depressed since the year 2000 due to political instability, which led economic turmoil.

The country is currently struggling to shake a “red flag” perception from key source markets mainly Europe and America.

“We are still compiling the statistics,” Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA chief executive, said last Friday.

Analysts have said tourism sector needs to embrace the use of information communication technology as a tool to keep up-to-date statistics.

This comes on the back of tourist arrivals marginally increasing by 8,3 percent to 2,4 million in 2011 from 2,2 million in 2010.

The increase was largely driven by visitors from the continent.

Quoting ZTA’s tourism trends and statistics report for 2011, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said tourism receipts moved to $662 million during the period, from $634 million recorded in 2010 while room occupancy remained static at 52 percent.

Only six percent of 2011’s visitors arrived from high spending European markets, the AfDB said.

Four percent came from the American and Asian markets, where the ZTA said tsunamis that rattled Japan’s coastal regions in 2011 forced potential tourists in the world’s third largest economy to reschedule travel plans.

However, the regional institution said Zimbabwe’s 2013 tourism industry growth targets were hinged on the country managing the negative perception.

Recently, Kaseke said the hospitality industry lost nearly $8 million in “cancelled” hotel bookings due to an announcement that elections might be held in March.

He said it would be prudent if the elections were held in March to prevent further losses to the economy and businesses.

“Every year that we have an election, our tourism figures go down,” he told businessdaily, signalling that an earlier and confirmed March election would dampen source-market anxiety over possible socio-economic instability often associated with Zimbabwe’s elections.

“…should the elections be held in August, then we have to brace ourselves for further bookings cancellations and we will lose around $16 million.”

In his 2013 national budget, Finance minister Tendai Biti projected that the tourism industry would grow by about four percent this year. - Business Writer

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