Tourism projected to grow 4,7pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe has projected a 4,7 percent growth of its tourism sector in 2015 on the back of an anticipated 2,1 million tourist arrivals in the year.

This year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the sector is set to receive two million tourists, resulting in a 3,9 percent growth by year-end.

“For the hotel business, the average room occupancy is expected to close the year at 53 percent and is anticipated to rise to 54 percent in 2015. Consequently, bed occupancies are also expected to increase to 38,5 percent in 2015, from 38 percent in 2014,” he said in his 2015 national budget.

Chinamasa, however, noted that the Ebola outbreak in parts of Africa posed a threat to attainment of the projected growth and overall socio-economic performance.

“Accordingly, the 2015 budget also prioritises support for the necessary countrywide awareness and preparedness activities mitigating the Ebola epidemic,” he said.

During the year, the hospitality industry lost an estimated $6 million in revenue due to bookings cancellations following the Ebola scare.

Chinamasa also extended the rebate of duty on tourism-related capital goods for a further 12 months. “The expansion and modernisation programmes, such as refurbishment of hotels and conference facilities have benefited from the rebate of duty facility that government implemented since 2009,” he said.

He noted that the refurbishment of facilities within the industry was still in progress, in line with initiatives to mobilise capital to finance on-going projects.

“The facility would be targeted at hotels and lodges,” said Chinamasa.

He also further proposed to extend the suspension of duty facility on vehicles used by safari operators in order for them to replace ageing game drive vehicles.

“In order to consolidate the gains achieved to date within the industry, I propose to extend the suspension of duty facility for a further period of twelve months,” he added.

The tourism industry is currently on a recovery path following more than a decade of political instability which led to an acute economic crisis, precipitating tourists particularly from key source markets like Europe to shun Zimbabwe.

The country’s traditional tourist markets are Europe, the Americas and Australia. Latest Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) statistics indicate that the country recorded a two percent growth to 1 832 570 in last year from 1 794 230 in 2012.

At its peak about 15 years ago, Zimbabwe attracted about 2,2 million visitors.

The majority of 2013 arrivals were low-spending tourists from mainland Africa who came in at 1 570 799.

Comments (2)

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