The Sunday News
Tichafara Bepe, Business Reporter
DOMESTIC tourism generated around $335 million in revenue last year on the back of increased hotel occupancies and visits to national parks and monuments.
Overall the national average hotel occupancies rose by five percent to 53 percent from 48 percent recorded in 2017, figures released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority showed.
“A large fraction of this utilisation (82 percent) is made up of locals mainly on workshops and conferences.”
“Victoria Falls remains the only region with a low proportion of domestic clientele (25 percent) otherwise all regions registered over 60 percent of their clientele composition from locals”, reads the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), 2018 Tourism Performance Report.
The country’s museums and monuments received 189 121 arrivals and of these, 178 951 representing 95 percent were domestic arrivals.
On the other hand, national parks received 957 752 tourists and of these 438 561 tourists, making up 46 percent, were domestic arrivals.
The ZTA said the compiled figures implied that there was potential to increase domestic arrivals into national parks.
“More continued investment into marketing and awareness programmes is critical as people still have the stigma that tourism is a preserve of the elite. We together with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority have so far embarked on intensive domestic tourism awareness programmes in order to achieve this goal,” reads the report.
Meanwhile, the tourism sector is estimated to have generated $1,050 billion in receipts from international tourists, marking a seven percent growth from $917 million in 2017.
Zimbabwe recorded 2,6 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, 6 percent up from 2,4 million received in 2017. The growth in arrivals was driven by the notable growth in arrivals from all source regions and most major markets with the exception of the Americas.
At least 80 percent of tourists received in Zimbabwe came from Africa while the Middle East had the least visitors at just one percent.
The overall performance for Zimbabwe’s tourism was very encouraging, with strong results in all the traditional overseas markets which rose by nine percent to 515 440 from 474 421.
Since 2017 tourist arrivals from overseas markets have galloped by 49 percent from 318 751 in 2016 to 515 440 in 2018.
“Though we are still to reach the 1999 performance (an all-time high in terms of overseas tourist arrivals, 597 010), the increase was quite significant and signalling a renewed interest on the destination.
“It shows that Zimbabwe is warming up to the outside world”, said the ZTA in its report.
The highest (top 5) arrivals from the overseas region in 2018 were USA (95,025), UK and Ireland (72,029), Germany (39,934), South Korea (33,759) and Japan (32,014).
The USA remains the biggest overseas market despite arrivals having fallen by one percent and the United Kingdom follows at second.
“To a large extent, this positive performance consolidates the tourism sector as a key driver in the economic growth of Zimbabwe. The current strong momentum is expected to continue in 2019,” said the ZTA.