Zimbabwe’s tourism revenue rises to US$1 billion in 2023

17 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Zimbabwe’s tourism revenue rises to US$1 billion in 2023 Zimbabwe's tourism revenue rises to US$1 billion in 2023

The Sunday Mail

Oliver Kazunga

Senior Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S tourism receipts increased by a remarkable 22 percent last year to reach US$1,1 billion, while international tourist arrivals stood at 1,6 million, up from one million in 2022, signalling a strong recovery of the sector following a devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

The tourism industry, which is one of the country’s major economic sectors contributing at least 5 percent to the gross domestic product, was hardest hit as the world imposed travel restrictions and national lockdowns to combat Covid-19, a respiratory infection that was first detected in China in December 2019 before spreading worldwide.

In 2022, the sector recorded US$911 million in revenues.

Since the lifting of travel restrictions and national lockdowns by the World Health Organisation in 2022, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector and that of the globe have been on a major rebound as people visited the country on business and educational missions, as well as leisure activities like safari hunting and sporting.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, through its world tourism barometer, indicated that international tourism ended last year at 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1,3 billion international arrivals.

The world tourism body attributed this to the reopening of international borders and increased marketing of destinations by most countries across the globe.

Prior to the pandemic, Zimbabwe’s tourism receipts were US$1,25 billion in 2018, while arrivals were at an all-time high of 2,6 million.

According to statistics leaked to this publication from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the tourists were mainly from the traditional source markets — Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Under President Mnangagwa’s pro-business policies, there has been an increase in international tourist arrivals, largely attributed to the various promotional initiatives such as the Visit Zimbabwe and the ZimBho campaigns by the tourism authority.

Credit also goes to increased efforts, spearheaded by the tourism body, in promoting meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

In May last year, ZTA signed an agreement with an aviation giant, Emirates, to further boost inbound tourist arrivals and develop traffic into the country utilising the strength of the airline’s global reach.

Zimbabwe also participated at the 2023 edition of the IMEX Frankfurt held at the Messe Convention Centre in Germany as part of efforts to tap into MICE tourism.

IMEX is where the global business events community comes together for four days every year.

The showcase attracts over 3 000 meeting planners where they meet with over 2 500 suppliers globally.

The statistics also indicate that the value of investments into the tourism sector last year declined by 45 percent to US$172 million from US$312,5 million in the prior year.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Wengayi Nhau said, from the above international tourist arrival statistics, the country’s tourism sector is on a sound path to recovery.

“As you might have also noticed, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion reported that the tourism sector in the month of January to September of 2023 was the highest contributor to the GDP at 12,1 percent. This was ahead of mining, agriculture and manufacturing,” said Mr Nhau.

“So, getting just that statement from the Ministry of Finance that we were the highest contributor means a lot in terms of the recovery compared to where we were pre-pandemic levels in terms of our contribution, as well as general performance of the sector.

“There is quite a lot of improvement in terms of arrivals, in terms of the money generated and people are spending a little bit longer than they were spending before the pre-pandemic period.

“We are also on a drive to increase the length of stay — it’s not about the number of people who come to a country, you might still get one million people coming into a country but spending an average of 10 nights per person. That gives you much more in terms of revenue than from 1,5 million who are coming and staying an average of three nights.”

Mr Nhau said the local tourism industry needs to continue implementing measures that ensure tourists increase the number of days they stay in the country.

“Like we are doing, collaborating with different destinations. Victoria Falls and Kariba are collaborating a lot, Harare and Kariba are collaborating a lot and also Bulawayo and Victoria Falls are collaborating so that when people arrive in Harare they can then go to Mana Pools, Kariba, Victoria Falls . . . that gives us more nights and more revenue and, of course, investments,” he  said.

As part of efforts to increase the length of stay in Zimbabwe by tourists, Mr Nhau said some tourism facilities in resort centres such as Kariba were being resuscitated.

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