Asian tourist arrivals decline 19pc

HARARE - Asian tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe has declined by 19 percent to 42 798 in 2014 from 52 959 recorded in 2013 despite the country’s aggressive Look East policy, latest tourism statistics show.

Figures recently released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) revealed that the southern African country registered growth in arrivals from all its major source regions except the Asian market.

Industry experts attributed the sharp decline in arrivals from Asia to decreased arrivals from China, Japan, and South Korea which are the region’s leading markets.

In 2003, Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy, which encouraged trade ties with China and the rest of Asia after the country’s diplomatic standoff with the west affected arrivals.

However, the country has failed to attract huge volumes of Asian tourists due to rigorous visa-applying procedures, poor air connectivity and high costs.

Zimbabwe, with one of the world’s most famous waterfall — the Victoria Falls — received 1 880 028 tourists in the full year to 2014, rising by a marginal 2,6 percent from 1 832 583 tourists recorded during the prior comparable period.

“Tourism receipts recorded a marginal three percent decline from $856 million down to $827 million. This to an extent reflects a slight decline in expenditure especially in the tourism facility by the same proportion,” read part of the ZTA report.

Meanwhile, ZTA has engaged tourism experts from Poland to help local hospitality industry stakeholders to penetrate the lucrative Polish market.

Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA chief executive, said tourism players who are keen to tap into the Polish market must register for the 2015

A’Sambeni Business Tourism Expo which runs concurrently with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair from April 28 to May 2, 2015.

“The Polish incentive market is very keen to package Zimbabwe as an incentive travel destination for the fast growing Polish market,” he said adding that local tourism industry players who have been receiving incentive travellers also confirmed that Poland is a market worth pursuing and nurturing.

The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair — in partnership with ZTA — will this year host in total 20 Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions (Mice) agents from Poland, United States of America and South Africa.

A’Sambeni which is in its second year running since its repositioning into a business tourism oriented fair also provides exhibitors with an opportunity to engage various local, regional and international corporates who annually converge for the Trade Fair.

Kaseke noted that Zimbabwe will continue to seriously engage international and regional Mice players so as to increase arrivals and receipts from international business tourists into the country.

Players in the tourism industry were urged to work closely with the ZTA in order to develop and reap huge returns from this lucrative market segment.

The A’Sambeni buyers are expected to arrive in Victoria Falls in two groups, between April 24 and 27, 2015. They will engage in a four day familiarisation tour of Zimbabwe’s Mice products in and around Victoria Falls.

“The educational tour is meant to equip the agents with a first-hand experience of the Zimbabwean Mice product as well as adequate product knowledge that will enable them to market the destination properly and bring more Mice business into the country,” said Kaseke.

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