THE tourism sector has received a festive boost in the resort town of Kariba, with full to capacity bookings during the Christmas season, The NewsHawks has gathered. Tour operators and hospitality industry players say bookings from 23 to 27 December are likely to bring back the good old days.
Some tour operators who spoke to this publication said the bookings have boosted confidence in the tourist offerings of Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake Apart from the scenic lake, Kariba offers wildlife viewing, including elephant, buffalo and hippopotamus.
It also hosts the internationally acclaimed Kariba Tiger Fish Tournament annually.
“We are happy to have many people booking for game drives and other activities during the Christmas season,” said a tourism operator.
She added that Zimbabwe’s August general election caused a decline in local arrivals in Kariba.
“In August, we suffered many cancelations from both local and international clients as the country was heading for the general elections. We suffered losses, but now is the time to recover,” said a tour operator specialising in game drives. His sentiments were echoed by some lodge operators who said the tense election mood dissuaded tourists from visiting Kariba.
“We had our bookings until 12 August ahead of general elections and ever since we have registered steady bookings. Our lodges are fully booked until after Christmas. Tourism is now back on its feet,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) manager for Kariba town Tapiwa Mpofu confirmed the latest boost of arrivals in the resort town, saying the destination is performing fairly well.
“The bookings are impressive because big hotels like Caribbea Bay and Tamarind are on 80% and 100% respectively from the 23rd up to 27th of December. Most of the medium and small lodges such as Samanyanga Resort, Waterfront, Cuttysark and Luna are on 100% throughout this period,” said Mpofu in a written response.
He was a bit cautious over the pre-bookings. “It is our hope that there won’t be any cancellations during the period,” he added. Mpofu further explained that people want to unwind during holidays.
“Most people are engaging in game drives, boat cruise, quad bikes, touring the dam wall, crocodile farm, among others,” Mpofu added.
He further said judging from the bookings, the resort town will be busy during the festive season.
“We are grateful that domestic tourists are the ones that are mainly focussing on Kariba environs, with a few on house boats whilst the international market is concentrated on houseboats as well as some safari camps in the islands the other side of Lake Kariba,” he said.
Last week, the ministry of Tourism launched a domestic tourism campaign in Chinhoyi.
Officially launching the campaign, Tourism minister Barbara Rwodzi, represented by permanent secretary Takaruza Munyanyiwa, said the project will shape the future of the industry which seeks to become a US$5 billion economic sector by 2025.
“As the ministry of Tourism, together with ZTA, we are here to announce an exciting new venture, the Festive Season Domestic Campaign — ZimBho — that aims to shape the future of tourism in our beautiful country, and in a small way contribute to the national vision of an upper middle income economy by 2030.
“The overall goal of the Festive Season Domestic Campaign — ZimBho — is to drive economic growth through encouraging locals and the Zimbabwean diaspora community to travel within our own borders this festive season, as they partake in various festivities,” said Rwodzi.
She reiterated the campaign will feed into the target of a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.
“For the campaign to achieve tangible results, we have set multi-faceted strategic objectives that aim to foster a travel culture among our citizens, promote various clusters of tourism such as excursions, rural, sport and religious tourism thus unlocking the incredible potential of domestic tourism, hence boosting our economy,” she said.
The minister said the campaign was running with a position statement: Holiday in Zimbabwe, Holiday At Home. This is a powerful statement that reminds us of the joy and experience that awaits us right within our own country.
Furthermore, our tagline “Every Journey Leads You Home’ encapsulates the idea that each exploration and adventure undertaken within Zimbabwe will lead us back to the heart and soul of our nation,” Rwodzi added.
Zimbabweans have traditionally used the Christmas and New Year holidays as an opportunity to visit loved ones, participate in family traditions, cultural activities, and experience the unique ambience of rural outposts.
Some choose to explore the various tourism resorts our country has to offer.
“During this campaign, we encourage everyone to experience the magnificence that Zimbabwe has to offer through exploring our hidden gems of our local attractions, immersing yourself in the beauty of our flora and fauna, treating your taste buds to our sumptuous local cuisine, embracing the entertainment options available, be it sports, concerts, or our vibrant nightlife,” Rwodzi said.