The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Lincoln Towindo
The tourism sector is poised to bring in record revenue of at least US$1 billion this year, a feat that was last attained two decades ago before Zimbabwe plunged into an economic abyss.
Tourist arrivals are expected to reach a record 2,7 million this year as the international community warms up to Zimbabwe.
Since Zimbabwe opened up for business, the sector’s performance has responded well with the number of visitors from traditionally non-source markets on the increase.
The tourism sector contributes 13 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. However, the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry says this figure is understated.
As a result, the ministry is modifying the formula used to calculate the sectors’ contribution to the economy.
Projections by the Government show that revenue from tourism and hospitality will grow to US$1,3 billion next year before peaking at US$3,3 billion in 2025.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the tourism industry is expected to continue growing in line with global trends.
Globally, tourism is be the fastest growing economic sector.
Said Minister Mupfumira: “The fourth quarter of the year usually builds on the performance of the third quarter and these two quarters usually mark the peak season of tourism in Zimbabwe.
“As such, the current trends indicate positive prospects for the tourism sector.
“The country’s tourism performance will continue to grow based on the envisaged regional growth trends (4-5 percent per annum).
“Tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe are estimated to reach over 2,7 million by the close of the year.
“The sector also targets over 3,5 million arrivals by the end of 2019 and around 6 million arrivals by the year 2025.
“In the first nine months of the year, tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent to 1 808 294 from 1 740 692 in 2017.
“This growth was largely driven by an increase in overseas arrivals in 2018.
“In the first nine months of the year, international tourism receipts are estimated to have reached US$736 million from U$713 million during the same period in 2017, representing a 3 percent growth.
“Tourism receipts are expected to close at over US$1 billion by the end of the year 2018, largely being driven by arrivals from the high spending overseas markets stated above.”
Minister Mupfumira said around 70 percent of local hotels experienced an increase in room occupancies between January and September.
She said the growth was the highest in the past five years and mostly driven by arrivals in Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo.
“Most of the hotels in the resort town of Victoria falls experienced high average occupancies of over 75 percent during the third quarter.
“The performance of the tourism industry hinges on destination image, destination awareness, continued marketing efforts and improvement on service delivery,” she said.
Growth in the mining and agriculture sectors is also correlating with the tourism sector’s performance.
Flue-cured tobacco deliveries this year reached an all-time high at 238 million kilogrammes delivered to auction floors, breaching the previous record of 237 million kg achieved in 2000.
In the mining sector, more than 34 tonnes of gold are projected this year to surpass previous records.