|Tourist arrivals rise — ZTA|
|Saturday, 09 June 2012 19:50|
Zimbabwe is now the second largest tourist destination in southern Africa behind South Africa, as the country continues to develop new methods of improving the sector, still healing from the bad image portrayed mainly by some media outlets based in traditional source markets.Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive, Mr Karikoga Kaseke, said tourist arrivals were steadily going up and with more efforts figures will go to 2004 levels of 2,4 million.
“We are now second to South Africa in the region. Our arrivals had at one time gone down to as low as 1,2 million per year but the number has grown to around 2,2 million per year. We are aiming at reaching 2,4 million that we recorded in 2004 which was the highest so far in the country,” he said.
The country, through ZTA and other agencies in the sector has been on overdrive to market the sector as it tries to attract more tourists.
Mr Kaseke said the increase in arrivals has been due to marketing and the rebranding exercise that has re-invigorated the sector.
ZTA has launched a new tourism brand — Zimbabwe, A World of Wonders — which is being marketed across the globe to attract more tourists.
“Our biggest wonder as a country is our people and we want this to be the main driver of the sector. We have wonderful people. Sites alone cannot attract tourists if the people who are going to receive them at the airport or at the hotel are not cheerful and welcoming,” he said.
Mr Kaseke said international tourism meetings have also helped bring back the glory in the sector.
The country recently hosted the African Travel Congress Annual congress in Victoria Falls which was hailed as a great success.
Next year the country co-hosts the United Nations World Tourism Organisation congress with Zambia another opportunity that the country will use to show the world its tourism potential.
Mr Kaseke, however, said beds accommodation especially in Victoria Falls, a major tourist attraction in the country was not enough to cater for the envisaged targets expected in the next five years.
“We have between 2 200 and 2 800 beds in the resort town and we need to increase by between 100 and 1 500 more in the next five years to cater for the increase in the number of tourists in the town.”
Some players in the hospitality sector in the resort town have also started renovating their infrastructure in anticipation of the boom in tourists.