According to the latest tourism statistics quarterly report released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the continued growth in arrivals is attributed to a reverse in the perception of Zimbabwe as a destination.
The market share for the overseas market stood at 13% in 2011 from 10% in 2010. Europe contributed the major chunk of the overseas market arrivals in 2011 having contributed 41% of the overseas market. Asia has the second largest overseas market share (24%) after Europe.
Mainland Africa had a 16% increase in arrivals from 226 075 in 2010 to 257 447. This increase was despite the decline in arrivals from South Africa (which is Zimbabwe’s largest market) by 28% from 147 241 to 106 243.
Average hotel room occupancy levels rose from 32% to 36% in 2010 while average bed occupancy levels also rose from 26% to 27%.
“The year 2011 promises to bring positive results to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry in line with the anticipated growth in international tourist arrivals by between 4% and 5% and the regional growth of 13%.
Tourist arrival trends are expected to ride on this positive performance,” reads part of the ZTA report.
“Accommodation utilisation is also expected to rise following the stabilisation of the economy and the demand resulting from the expected increase in arrivals in 2011,” it added.
The first quarter of 2011 recorded 319 788 tourist arrivals into the country, representing a 16 percent increase from the 2010 which had 317 592. Arrivals from the regions experienced increases during the period under review with the greatest percentage increase being recorded in the Middle East followed by Asia.
Africa still stands as the major source market for the country while Europe is the largest overseas market, in terms of total arrivals there from, followed by America.
In period under review, Africa contributed 88% of the arrivals to Zimbabwe followed by Europe (5%), Americas (3%) and Asia (3%). The Oceania and Middle East markets contributed 1% and 0.4% respectively.
The African source market continues to dominate the overseas source market in 2011. Overseas arrivals increased from 26 803 in 2010 to 35 786 in 2011. Arrivals from the African continent increased in 2011 from 226 075 in 2010 to 257 477. South Africa remained the major source market in Africa with a market share of 41% despite having fallen by 3 percentage points.
There are however, fears that talk of elections by President Mugabe and reckless statements from the military might reverse the trend.
Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) politburo has rejected a road-map drawn up by South African President Jacob’s Zuma’s facilitation team.
The roadmap has indicated that the country could possible hold elections in August/September next year or early 2012.
“It is good for the country economically if we have more visitors but I am afraid this will come to naught if Zanu (PF) insists on elections,” said Trevor Maisiri, a political analyst with a Harare think-tank.
“Election talk must stop. It is not good for the tourism sector,” said Maisiri.