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Confusion reigns in tourism

Shakeman Mugari

CONFUSION reigns in the country’s struggling tourism sector with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono this week announcing tourist arrival figures that are totally different from the ones releas

ed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) two weeks ago.

Gono’s figures, announced in the monetary policy review statement on Wednesday, are almost 100% lower than those released by the ZTA.

Two weeks ago the ZTA issued figures that indicated that tourist arrivals had grown to 2,2 million last year compared to 2,04 million recorded in 2002. Most key players in the industry have disputed these figures, which indicated a boom in tourism.

In his statement on Wednesday, Gono said tourist arrivals had increased to 1,089 million last year compared to 739 284 in 2002 – a far-cry from the ZTA’s statistics.

There is also a marked difference between figures for tourism receipts from the central bank and the ZTA. The tourism authority claimed that tourism receipts had plunged from US$75,7 million in 2002 to US$44,1 million last year. However, Gono this week said there had been a 40% increase in tourism receipts from US$11,4 million in 2002 to US$16 million last year.

The ZTA numbers are also in conflict with the occupancy rates at two of the country’s leading hotels, the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and Zimsun Leisure, which have remained static for the past two years. Zimsun, which owns three hotels in Victoria Falls and about 40% of the lodges in Kariba, said their occupancies had remained at an average 41% over the past two years. RTG also said occupancies in the resort areas had remained subdued at 30%.

Zimsun chief executive Shingi Munyeza on Tuesday reiterated that there has been no marked improvement in the industry over the last two years.

“I am sorry to say that contrary to some statistics in the media, the tourism industry is not in a boom,” said Munyeza.

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