UK TOURIST AR­RIVALS DOU­BLE

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THE call by Gov­ern­ment to re-en­gage with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has ben­e­fited the tourism in­dus­try the most, as fig­ures re­leased by Africa Al­bida Tourism (AAT) re­veal that tourist ar­rivals from United King­dom have dou­bled.

AAT chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Ross Kennedy said the im­proved ties be­tween Zim­babwe and United King­dom was start­ing to man­i­fest in the tourism sec­tor.

“In the last two years, the UK mar­ket has re­sponded to many pos­i­tive changes in Zim­babwe, as well as recog­nis­ing and, in­deed, re­mem­ber­ing, that we have an in­cred­i­ble tourism des­ti­na­tion to of­fer in Zim­babwe.

“The UK mar­ket was our largest source mar­ket un­til 2001. There is a long his­tory, con­nec­tion and bond be­tween our two coun­tries, but this was se­verely dam­aged by events be­tween 2000 and 2015,” he said.

AAT’s re­port re­leased last week in­di­cates that in 2017 trav­ellers from the UK were at 12 765. In 2016 only 5 073 vis­ited the coun­try.

With this, AAT be­lieves that is the be­gin­ning of sig­nif­i­cant vol­ume in­creases.

“Tourist ar­rivals to Vic­to­ria Falls, Zim­babwe, in­creased by 11 per­cent in 2017, with in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals sharply ris­ing, with the UK show­ing the most notable growth,” read the re­port.

Af­ter UK, vis­i­tors from the United States fol­low closely, record­ing a steady trend of ar­rivals with 73 803 tourists in 2017, com­pared to 63 502 in 2016.

Other coun­tries in the top source mar­kets in­clude Ger­many, Aus­tralia, France, Ja­pan, Italy, Switzer­land, Canada and In­dia.

Mr Kennedy said the new Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port has con­trib­uted to the con­tin­ued in­crease in in­ter­na­tional tourists ar­rivals.

“The new

Vic­to­ria

Falls

In­ter­na­tional Air­port with its ge­o­graph­i­cal hub lo­ca­tion, plus much en­hanced re­gional route ac­cess and con­nec­tiv­ity has also played a part in the growth.”

The AAT re­port points that tourism vis­its to the Vic­to­ria Falls rain­for­est rose sharply, adding 36 per­cent in two years.

“Lo­cal and re­gional ar­rivals were flat, mainly caused by ex­ces­sive po­lice road­block ac­tiv­ity on high­ways, which has now ended. This masked a mean­ing­ful rise in for­eign tourist vis­its to the Falls.

“Ho­tel room stays in­creased by 20 per­cent over this pe­riod, in­di­cat­ing a sub­stan­tial in­crease in the use of al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions on the Vic­to­ria Falls side of the river.

“There was a fur­ther sharp in­crease in vis­i­tor num­bers to the Zim­babwe side of the rain­for­est in 2018 of 26 per­cent, how­ever, for­eign vis­i­tor num­ber growth rose 28 per­cent vs lo­cal 15 per­cent. Ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion stays grew less than rain­for­est vis­its at 12,5 per­cent in 2018 for the first six months, again re­flect­ing a boom in non-ho­tel stays on the Zim­babwe side.”

Re­spond­ing to the AAT sur­vey, Hospi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe (HAZ) pres­i­dent Mr In­no­cent Many­era said the in­crease in tourists in the coun­try should be cred­ited to the new dis­pen­sa­tion in Gov­ern­ment.

He at­trib­uted the in­creased tourist trend to the Gov­ern­ment’s stance on the ease of do­ing busi­ness across all sec­tors.

“We are notic­ing an in­crease in the num­ber of vis­i­tors to most tourist des­ti­na­tions. All this is be­cause of Gov­ern­ment’s en­gage­ment with for­eign in­vestors.

“When an in­vestor comes in, they bring an en­tourage of vis­i­tors as well. They come in as groups and this trans­lates to more busi­ness for the hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

“Vis­i­tors want to feel the change in Zim­babwe and when they get back to their home, they sell our des­ti­na­tions.

“Thanks to the new po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion. The coun­try is def­i­nitely go­ing up the lad­der in the hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try,” said Mr Many­era.

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