Tourists' arrivals up 12 percent

HARARE - Zimbabwe's tourist arrivals went up 12 percent to 859 995 in the half-year to June 2013 spurred by increase in transiting business visitors.

In its latest report on the country’s hospitality and leisure sector, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said “ever increasing regional trade and commerce contributed immensely to this growth in arrivals, through the activities of business tourists, cross border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.”

This comes as Zimbabwe’s tourism industry — currently trying to shake off a negative perception tag in key source markets — is on a sluggish recovery path after a decade-long economic crisis and political instability saw arrivals from the United States of America, Germany and Britain dwindling.

The authority said the market share for the overseas arrivals into Zimbabwe stood at 13 percent compared to that of African arrivals, at 87 percent.

“The combined arrivals from all overseas markets rose by 20 percent this year compared to last year, on the backdrop of exceptional increases from Europe (26 percent) and Asia (60 percent) with UK, France and China specifically registering outstanding performances,” said ZTA.

During the period under review, mainland Africa saw an 11 percent increase in arrivals having risen from 675 727 in 2012 to 749 301, with South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia contributing over 70 percent of all arrivals from this region.

The Americas’ declined by three percent from 24 462 in 2012 to 23 764 on the background of a six percent decline in USA arrivals.

Asia recorded a 60 percent growth in arrivals into Zimbabwe.

ZTA noted that in Asia, China is rapidly becoming the major engine driving global tourism, (having generated 83 million trips to all parts of the world in 2012) and continues to grow.

“Arrivals from China grew by about three times as much in 2013 as in 2012, yielding a whopping 310 percent growth,” it said.

Europe recorded a 26 percent growth in arrivals with United Kingdom (72 percent) and France (76 percent) being the star performers from this region.

However, the major markets of Germany and Italy registered decline, without which they could have otherwise fuelled further growth of European arrivals to Zimbabwe.

The Middle East declined by seven percent, with the major market of Israel tumbling by nine percent during the period under review.

Oceania grew by eight percent buoyed by Australia which is the only market with positive results from this region, whilst New Zealand recorded a 37 percent decline.

During the same period average hotel room occupancy levels in the country rose by two percentage points in the first half of the year to stand at 41 percent from 39 percent recorded in 2012.

However, the average hotel bed occupancy levels contracted by five percentage points from 37 percent in 2012, the statistics show.

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