Polls may harm tourism sector: ZTA

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says the forthcoming elections may have a negative impact on the country’s sensitive hospitality and leisure sector.

This comes as Zimbabwe — currently trying to shake off a “negative perception” tag in key source markets — registered a 17 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the quarter to March 2013.

According to ZTA’s statistics report, the country received 404 282 tourists compared to 346 299 in same period last year.

“The impending elections, to an extent, may hinder good performance of the tourism sector, being one of the most sensitive economic sectors,” ZTA said.

The Authority said positive trends this year were also hinged on improved accessibility.

Zimbabwe’s elections have traditionally been violent, in turn destabilising business and scaring away potential investors and tourists.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s report at the beginning of the year, Zimbabwe’s projected 2013 tourism industry growth targets depend on the country changing the negative perception in markets like Europe and America.

The southern African nation’s image was seriously blemished by politics. Apart from managing the perceived bad image, AfDB said: “The achievement of these targets hinges on… re-investment in the upliftment of some of the country’s tired tourism facilities and infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, the country expects nearly 5 000 visitors to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly it is co-hosting with Zambia in Victoria Falls. - Kudzai Chawafambira

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