HARARE – Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe went up 15 percent to 554 417 from 480 510 in the quarter ended March 2018, latest statistics revealed.
According to the Finance ministry’s Fiscal Policy and Advisory Services Department update, tourism receipts also grew 20 percent to $190 million during the period under review.
“Receipts…grew by 20 percent from $156 million . . . spurred by a rebound in overseas source markets,” the Department said.
In the quarter under review, occupancy rates were positive for all regions, except Masvingo, which registered a 15 percentage point decline from 49 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2018.
“Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, with a combined market share of 64 percent of the total room (6 483) and bed (12 772) capacities in the country registered positive growth during the period under review.
“Victoria Falls recorded an average occupancy of 44 percent in March 2018 up from 37 percent in January 2018 and the highest in the last 5 years,” Treasury said, attributing this growth to international arrivals with 75 percent of the occupancies in Victoria Falls being foreign tourists, who are largely business and leisure tourists.
For the rest of the year, Treasury expects the tourism sector to record gains, buoyed by the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” campaign.
“Renewed interest in business opportunities and investments in Zimbabwe complemented by marketing efforts and improved destination image are expected to provide a platform for tourism and economic growth,” the bulletin said.
This comes as Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira recently said the pricing of Zimbabwe’s tourism products need to be reviewed downwards to enhance competitiveness and increase volumes.
Cutting tourism packages pricing has to be buttressed by aggressive domestic tourism campaigns that include tailor-made packages for special groups such as school children and middle income earners such as civil servants, she said.
While the country boasts of a diverse natural and historical tourism heritage attraction sites, local destination pricing is seen as expensive compared to regional benchmarks.
It costs between $100 and $200 to book a decent hotel in Zimbabwe while the price can double in major tourist resorts like the Victoria
As a destination, Zimbabwe becomes even more expensive given the South African rand’s slump against the United States dollar.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Council, South Africa accounts for 30 percent of tourists that visit Zimbabwe annually.
— The Financial Gazette