Hotels fully booked in main tourist destinations — ZTA
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says most hotels are fully booked in key tourist destinations, which has seen a significant increase in business during this festive season.
The tourism industry is on a rebound after being negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which results in many countries effecting travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, which claimed many lives globally.
“We released our figures for January to September recently, and they are indicating that there is a positive activity across the tourism sector. If you look at our average occupancy rate, they rose pretty much in the fourth quarter, and we also got huge increases in domestic entries into the national parks on the local market. There was an increase of 96% compared to the previous year,” said corporate affairs manager Godfrey Koti.
“From our overseas arrivals, there was a significant increase of about 256%, compared to the same period in 2021.
“Then from Africa, which is the region, we also witnessed 130% of people that came. So, all in all, at an average, we saw a 160% increase.
“So, from the perspective of money that has been received, we received around almost US$600 million, compared to about US$244 million received last year in the same period. So again, the magnificent change is because there was no business last year because of the restrictions.”
Koti has also attributed the rise in tourism to the resumption of air travel, which he says will contribute to a better outlook in 2023.
In November, Ethiopian Airlines launched a new flight to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, via Victoria Falls last week, scheduling four flights weekly.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has also been seeking for new air deals.
“But now, all the airlines are back – pretty much all of them, with an increase of new ones that have come through in 2022. On the investment portfolio, we have new investment projects that we are pushing for in 2022, which are sitting at US$306 million compared to US$94 million in 2020.
“We are expecting growth as we get into the New Year. Our focus and emphasis will also be on tourism that includes conferencing, meetings, events and incentive travels among others, because we have recorded growth in that area,” Koti said.
In the country’s prime tourist destination, Victoria Falls, business is also good, although tourism players are worried about a park fees hike, which comes into effect on 1 January.
Last week, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife (ZimParks) hiked entry fees into Zambezi and Victoria Falls national parks, with international guests expected to pay US$50 for access via the ordinary rainforest gate and US$150 at the VIP gate in January.
ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo defended the hike citing sustainability issues, which he says have been dogging wildlife management. The President of the Employers Association for Tours and Safari operators Clement Mukwasi said the numbers were good despite concerns.
“We are having a good number of people coming to the destination. But, we have had a knock on the international tourist arrivals, because of changes in prices for entry into the Victoria Falls rainforest,” said Mukwasi.
“Domestic tourists are coming, and we expect to have a 100% turnout for the Christmas and New Year period. The majority of accommodation facilities are now full — either physically full because confirmations have been done. Other have got unconfirmed bookings that are at around 80%.”
Mukwasi said boat cruising and high wire activities, are likely to be the most popular activities, owing to good weather.
“Good news also came from the weathermen who said that we are going to have a dry Christmas. So, what it means is that helicopters are going to be buzzling above the falls. Helicopter and boat cruise are going to be the signature for the destination,” he said.