Zim tourism improving: Kaseke

HARARE - Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke has said the country’s tourism sector is improving, owing to the peace currently prevailing across the nation.

In a statement yesterday, Kaseke said that the tourism industry in Zimbabwe has seen a steady growth over the past year.

“In 2016, the country recorded 2 167 686 arrivals, five percent up from 2 056 588 received in 2015.

“The sector also registered an estimated $819 million in revenue in 2016 hence a contribution of about 10, 9 percent to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

“This achievement, under the obtaining harsh economic environment, is largely attributed to the prevailing peace and tranquillity that has been guaranteed by our security forces particularly the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other efforts by both the tourism players and government at large.

“We want to applaud our security forces and law enforcement agents for guaranteeing peace and tranquillity in the country. This has remained the hallmark of our tourism and is an attraction on its own.

“The Authority and the entire tourism industry appreciate the security initiatives particularly by the Zimbabwe Republic Police,” Kaseke said.

In the statement, Kaseke said as the tourism sector, they are not against police check points, as they have helped to maintain peace.

He said the growth is despite myriad of challenges that have been faced by the tourism sector over the past few years.

“The recent $150 million face-lift of the Victoria Falls International Airport, which was commissioned by…President Robert Mugabe in November 2016 is a game changer for the travel and tourism sector as it ushers in a new era of the country’s tourism development,” he said, adding that the Victoria Falls is now an emerging regional aviation hub, connected to major regional cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Lusaka, Luanda, Windhoek, Gaborone and Maputo.

He also said that Victoria Falls, which is one of the world’s seven wonders, is expected to be the main tourist hub for the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region given its centrality, adding that several international airlines have shown interest in introducing direct flights to the resort town.

“Whilst there have been some businesses which closed down in recent years due to economic challenges, recently there has been a notable rise in new investments. For instance the ZTA registered 28 new restaurants, 17 new guest houses and 28 incentive travel organisers in the past 24 months. This goes to show that while things may seem grim, there are positive prospects in the country’s tourism sector,” he said.

Kaseke added that he estimated the number of tourist arrivals to reach over 2,3 million by the close of the year and over 3 million by 2020.

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