240pc jump in tourists at parks

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

240pc jump in tourists at parks 
Mr Tinashe Farawo

Blessings Chidakwa

Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe has recorded a 240 percent increase of tourists at national parks within a year, the majority being locals, as the country’s tourism sector continues to rebound and gallop towards its US$5 billion per annum target.

Statistics released by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) show that the country is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic after recording an increase of 397 586 tourists, with locals accounting for 182 350, while foreigners were 179 980.

In 2021, 286 344 tourists visited the parks, 251 088 (domestic) and 35 256 (international) while in 2022 it then boomed as 683 930 tourists were recorded, 468 694 (domestic) with 215 236 being international ones.

Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the country witnessed an increase in terms of tourists, especially domestic visitors since Covid-19.

He said in 2019, domestic visitors were 454 140 international and 474 251 locals, totaling 928 391, but the figures dropped drastically in 2020 due to Covid-19, with domestic tourists being 173 752 while international arrivals were at 58 174, the overall being 231 936.

“If you look at the nearly one million tourists who visited our parks in 2019 and the 600 000 who visited last year you will see that in 2019, between 60 to 70 percent were foreigners,” said Mr Farawo.

“Now things have changed. If you look at the 600 000 plus which visited our parks last year, you will see that more than 400 000 were locals and the balance of course foreign tourists.”

Mr Farawo said they would keep on encouraging people to visit Zimbabwe which has one of the world’s seven natural wonders.

“This is in line with the Government’s policy of creating a US$5 billion tourism economy in the near future so, we will continue to do more programmes tailor-made so that more people can visit,” he said. “Programmes like ‘stay now and pay later’ will also be implemented as we move towards that target.”