via 390 000 tourists visit Zim in Q1 | The Herald July 23, 2015 by Golden Sibanda
TOURIST arrivals into Zimbabwe declined by 0,3 percent to 387 557 during the first quarter of this year weighed down by a fall in visitors from Europe, Americas and Asia.
The latest statistics from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority show that the Americas registered the biggest decline after a 20 percent plunge in visitors from US.
This rang true of other American markets except Mexico and Brazil, which are, however, not significant, registering 360 visitors between them during the quarter.
Arrivals from Asia went down by 19 percent with India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea leading the pack pulling down the performance of the Asian source market.
But unlike in the first quarter of 2014 when the entire Asian market registered a decline in arrivals, China, Malaysia and Pakistan recorded increases in visitors in 2015.
Mainland Africa was among the markets that registered growth in the first three months after seeing arrivals going up by 2 percent to 337 695 during the three months.
Neighbouring South Africa, Nigeria, Angola and Zambia were the only African markets that improved in terms of visitors to Zimbabwe between the period January and March.
ZTA said that, in terms of its market segmentation, Oceania was the only other block market to register growth at 23 percent as all constituents recording positive growth.
The Middle East recoded 7 percent growth during the quarter although in absolute terms this represents just 72 visitors during the period under review, led by Israel.
“Arrivals from Israel represent 86 percent of arrivals from Middle East. In spite of the introduction of the Emirates airline with direct flights from the Middle East, arrivals from this market remain suppressed,” ZTA said in its 2015 first quarter review.
Government regards tourism as one of its low hanging fruits to support immediate growth prospects in immediate term.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi target to turn the sector into a $5 billion industry by 2020.
It is expected that the $150 million modernisation and expansion of Victoria Falls Airport will change the face of Zimbabwe’s tourism landscape with capacity for bigger long-haul aircraft.
In terms of accommodation, occupancy was unchanged for Harare at 53 percent while Bulawayo recorded a decline from 33 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in the 2015 first quarter.
However, Zimbabwe’s most popular and iconic tourist attraction, Victoria Falls, registered growth in room occupancy from 34 percent to 37 percent driven by conferences.
While it looked as though Kariba had the second best performance after Harare during the quarter to march at 43 percent, its room capacity is very small at just 447.
In ther resorts Beitbridge grew to 24 percent from 22 percent, Hawnge grew to 19 percent from 13 percent, Midlands jumped to 32 percent from 21 percent, Mutare was unchanged at 18 percent while Masvingo fell to 28 percent from 35 percent.