The Sunday Mail
THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has registered a 25 percent jump in tourist arrivals at its resorts for the period January to October 2018, compared to the same period last year.
The increase is in line with Government efforts under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), through which Government seeks to build a foundation for Vision 2030. Zimbabwe seeks to achieve upper middle income status in the next twelve years.
ZimParks’ thrust is on increasing tourist arrivals as a precursor to boosting tourism receipts and employment creation in the industry.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has been tasked to work with industry players to implement programmes aimed at achieving this.
In a statement, Zimparks said it received 706 359 tourists at its resorts in the first 10 months of this year, compared to 566 432 for the same period last year. The Authority attributed the increase to the goodwill brought about by the new dispensation in November last year.
Foreign tourists continue to dominate the market and this year they accounted for 59 percent, compared to the 41 percent for locals. When compared to the preceding year, foreign arrivals alone registered a 23 percent increase as 415 124 checked into local parks in the first 10 months of the year against 336 785 last year.
The majestic Victoria Falls, which is one of the seven world wonders, remains Zimparks’s major tourist destination, together with destinations like Mana Pools, Matobo and Hwange National Parks as well as Chinhoyi Caves.
“Tourism is largely a sentiment business and we are grateful to the new dispensation for the positivity it has brought on the country,” Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo told The Sunday Mail Business.
“We are happy with how people have responded to the prevailing peace and we hope the trend will continue.
“While work will continue to make sure we reposition our parks and Zimbabwe as the preferred global tourism destination, we are at the same time working on tailor made products for the domestic market, which we feel remains largely untapped,” he said.
As part of boosting arrivals, the Authority is working on rehabilitating and upgrading its accommodation units in a bid to maximise receipts from arrivals. ZimParks has already set out a program that will see the investment of $5, 6 million for the upgrade.
The programme will target the Authority’s 250 accommodation units across the country, which have a current carrying capacity of 880 beds. The plan is to upgrade these to four and five-star hotel status.
Mr Farawo claimed that ZimParks is now out of the woods after concerns that were raised in the Auditor General’s report for the year 2016.
“The things raised in the 2016 audit were effectively addressed by changes that were done which saw the coming in of a new board of directors made up of notable corporate gurus led by Justice (Moses) Chinhengo as well as new Director-General (Mr Fulton Mangwanya).
“We are now very much compliant with all laws and tax regulations of the land and the new team has made sure that employees who were up to seven months in salary arrears have had their issues addressed. We are on a positive trajectory and we are looking forward to declaring a dividend to the shareholder in the not so distant future,” he said.