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Tourism records upswing in business

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THE tourism sector’s revenue for the first quarter ending March was up 138% to US$129 million buoyed by the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and the coming of new airlines into the country, a new Treasury report has shown.

BERNARD MPOFU

According to the World Bank, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector could have lost nearly US$700m in business due to restrictions aimed at slowing down the spread of the respiratory disease.

The country reported its first case of the coronavirus in March 2020, prompting the authorities to enforce several measures such as halting global travel which hit hard the tourism sector.

 “International tourist arrivals stood at 126 955 during the first quarter of 2022, an improvement when compared to the same period last year. The positive performance was on account of a freer global travelling environment when compared to the whole of last year,” reads the latest Treasury Bulletin.

“In terms of receipts, the sector is estimated to have generated about US$129.2 million during the period under review compared to US$54.2 million generated in the same period in 2021, reflecting a 138% increase.”

Of the 126 955 arrivals, 62.7% came from Africa while 20.9% came from Europe while all the other regions contributed the remaining 16.4%.

Official statistics show that tourism accounted for 4.25% of gross domestic product in 2018, which translated to US$1.03 billion. In 2019, the sector accounted for 6.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

 In 2019, the sector accounted for 6.3% of GDP with a value of US$1.23 billion. At the same time, the data also shows that tourism accounted for 1.56% of national employment levels in 2018, with around 100 000 jobs supported and created.

The year 2022 begun on a positive note for travel, with the authorities gradually removing Covid-19 restrictions, allowing tourism activities to resume.

New airlines such as Eurowings Discover began flying into Victoria Falls, South Africa’s Airlink added a new Harare-Durban route while Fastjet Zimbabwe introduced the Victoria Falls-Kruger Mpumalanga route.

The report further shows that there was notable recovery in the accommodation sector, with national average hotel room occupancy level recording a 20% improvement, up from the 14% occupancy rate in 2021 to 34% in 2022. All regions in the country experienced growth ranging from 7% to 37%, with Bulawayo recording the highest growth and an occupancy rate above 50%.

“The buoyant results for the first quarter remain closely dependent on the resilience of the domestic market, with the local clientele accounting for an average of 94.7% which was hedged by MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions) business, the report further reads.

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