HARARE – Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals for the first half of 2019 marginally declined by 3% from 1.14 million in the same period last year to 1.11 million, latest data shows.
Of the total, Africa, America, Asia contributed 921 324, 47 099, 47 223 respectively. Europe, Middle East, and Oceania accounted for 79 939, 3 513 and 16 244 in that order. However, the latest report for the first 9 months to September is yet to be released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Meanwhile, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president Innocent Manyera said the country’s hotel occupancy levels will close at an average of 45 – 50% this year. The industry has not been spared from inflationary pressures, fuel shortages, power cuts, and gas and water challenges making it difficult to plan ahead.
“Also the domestic traveler is incapacitated due to the decline in disposable income. Pricing has been an issue since most of our critical stock suppliers move prices in line with inflation and the exchange rate and morale of staff has been on the decline side since salaries increase is in line with inflation,” he said.
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The going concern of the sector relies on government activities, non-governmental organizations, and corporates. However, international travel has been on the slower side as weekenders.
The southern African nation has been on a drive to regain lost market share in the traditional markets of Europe, America, Australia, and Japan, penetrate new markets in Eastern Europe, China, and India in Asia as well as growing the domestic market so as to enhance the contribution of tourism to the national economy.
Along with mining and agriculture, the tourism industry is expected to play a key role in generating much-needed foreign currency and creating employment. Under the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy – Vision 2025, government targets to increase tourist arrivals to over 5.5 million by 2023, as well as growing tourism receipts from $1 billion in 2017 to $3.5 billion by 2023.