TOURIST arrivals to Zimbabwe increased 4% in the nine months to September 2018 to 1,8 million from 1,7 million in the corresponding period the previous year as international perceptions of the country as a worthwhile destination saw a marked shift.
By Melody Chikono
This translated to a 6% increase in hotel occupancies across the country.
The engagements which began early last year with a trip to Spain, Asia and the Middle East saw Asia emerging as the top tourism source with a 25% increase to 79 858 from 63 744, followed by Oceania which increased 18% to 32 649.
Visitors from Europe increased 11% to end the period at 70 440.
However, there was an 18% decline on tourists from the Middle East closing the period at 4 479 from 5 448 visitors, while a marginal 2% increase was recorded for Africa.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs Godfrey Koti told businessdigest that the organisation is working closely with the Tourism minister to develop products suitable for diverse markets.
“We have been making International engagements as ZTA led by the minister. As a result, we were slated as number three on the must-visit country in 2019 by Lonely Planet travel guide. Above us were Sri-lanka and Germany. We were also on the top 10 list on the Telegraph. The international engagement programmes assisted in the increase of inflow of tourism. We went to Spain in January, (and) to Asia in the Middle East with the minister directly as the tourism authority. We were centering our engagements around openness of business in the country,” he said.
During the period, national hotel occupancy shot up to 53% from 47% with Beigtbridge recording the highest occupancy movement at 21% followed by Hwange which recorded 1% change from the 22% recorded in 2017.
Victoria Falls and Bulawayo recorded 5% change while Harare was at 10%.