Zimbabwe recorded a 12 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2013, registering 859 995 compared to 767 393 visitors during the same period last year, according to statistics released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. The first half of 2013 marked the build-up to the harmonised elections which were resoundingly won by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Tourist arrivals usually tend to decline towards, during and after an election.
“Surprisingly, the elections had little effect on tourist arrivals with a few exceptions such as Botswana, Argentina, USA, Singapore, Germany, Italy and Israel whose arrivals rose in the first quarter, but, suddenly declined in the second quarter,” said the tourism body.
The ever increasing regional trade and commerce also contributed immensely to this growth in arrivals, through the activities of business tourists, cross-border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.
Asia exhibited an outstanding performance, recording a 60 percent growth in arrivals into Zimbabwe.
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, recording a whopping 310 percent growth.
Regionally, Africa had an 11 percent increase to 749 301 in the first half in arrivals rising from 675 727 in the same period last year.
South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia shared over 70 percent of the arrivals from the Sadc region.
Europe recorded a 26 percent growth in arrivals with the United Kingdom (72 percent) and France (76 percent) being the star performers from this region.
However, the major markets of Germany and Italy registered a decline, which could have otherwise fuelled further growth of European arrivals to Zimbabwe.
Tourist arrivals from the Americas declined by 3 percent, having falling from 24 462 in 2012 to 23 764 on the background of a 6 percent decline in United States of America’s arrivals.
Middle East arrivals also declined by 7 percent, with the major market of Israel tumbling by 9 percent during the period under review.
Australia boosted the tourist arrivals of Oceania by 8 percent which was the only market with positive results from this region, while New Zealand registered a 37 percent decline.