‘Brand Zim­babwe’ thrills Asia and Europe

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

THE widely mar­keted “Brand Zim­babwe” tourism cam­paign spear­headed by Gov­ern­ment and in­de­pen­dent play­ers in the sec­tor has been cred­ited for the in­crease in the num­ber of tourists from Europe and Asia over the past year.

In spite of the hard knock hic­cups in the econ­omy, ev­i­dence of re­sults in the just re­leased Tourism Sec­tor Per­for­mance First Half of 2018 re­port by the Zim­babwe Tourism Au­thor­ity (ZTA) in­di­cate that in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals has surged.

This comes amid in­ter­na­tional cheer as Zim­babwe was listed as the third best des­ti­na­tion to visit by the ac­claimed Lonely Planet. The com­pre­hen­sive re­port notes that mas­sive mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties are pay­ing div­i­dends and giv­ing the coun­try a pos­i­tive growth out­look as more tourist source mar­kets are open­ing.

Much to the de­light of lo­cal tourism firms, there were 1 148 114 ar­rivals dur­ing the first half of 2018, up 9 per­cent from 1 057 244 recorded dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2017.

The ZTA re­ports said the Asian mar­ket rose by 59 per­cent, mak­ing the sub­con­ti­nent the most sig­nif­i­cant source mar­ket. Asia has over­taken the United King­dom mar­ket which had over the past half year dom­i­nated tourist ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Over­all ar­rivals to Zim­babwe in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly in the first half of 2018 com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, with Asia lead­ing the pack with a growth rate of 59 per­cent, trans­lat­ing into 50 433 visitors in 2018 com­pared with 31 721 in 2017,” read the re­port.

“Euro­pean ar­rivals in­creased by 29 per­cent from 78 225 visitors in 2017 to 101 101 in 2018. Amer­ica grew by 10 per­cent, from 51 401 visitors in the first half of 2017 to 56 682 for the same pe­riod in 2018. Ocea­nia rose by 20 per­cent year-on-year, with 17 511 visitors recorded in 2018 com­pared with 14 616 in the first half of 2017. Ar­rivals from the Mid­dle East rose 34 per­cent, from 2 506 in 2017 to 3 364 this year. Ar­rivals from African coun­tries in­creased by five per­cent, from 878 775 in the first half of 2017 com­pared with 919 023 for the same pe­riod in 2018.”

Hos­pi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion of Zim­babwe (HAZ) pres­i­dent Mr In­no­cent Many­era ex­pressed op­ti­mism that in the next few years the tourism sec­tor would be­come the coun­try’s ma­jor in­vest­ment driver.

“These re­sults are an in­di­ca­tion of growth cul­mi­nat­ing from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional cam­paigns. We have man­aged to lure tourists from all over the world. If our tourist pack­ages and des­ti­na­tions are the envy of many, it means we are geared for a big change,” he said.

Hol­i­day mak­ers from South Korea ac­counted for 122 per­cent in ar­rivals fol­lowed by In­dia at 73 per­cent. Chi­nese and Ja­panese na­tion­als con­trib­uted 24 and 53 per­cent of tourists re­spec­tively.

ZTA noted the re­cent up­grad­ing of visas in China and In­dia made a huge im­pact to trav­ellers.

In a com­ment on the ZTA re­port, lead­ing travel and hos­pi­tal­ity ex­pert Gavin Ren­nie said tourism is headed for boom.

“This is a game-changer and the re­sults are be­ing seen al­ready,” said Ren­nie, who is a direc­tor of Of­f2Africa.

“Years of mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the EU are now pay­ing div­i­dends. Zim­babwe is now more than ever con­sid­ered a safe and po­lit­i­cally sta­ble coun­try to visit, with an abun­dance of di­verse wildlife parks and cul­tural at­trac­tions.”

ZTA also notes that Vic­to­ria Falls re­mains the most sought af­ter des­ti­na­tion, in par­tic­u­lar to Euro­pean visitors.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Africa Al­bida Mr Ross Kennedy said the re­con­struc­tion of the Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port brought in a new wave of devel­op­ment.

“The new Vic­to­ria Falls Air­port, with its ge­o­graph­i­cal hub lo­ca­tion, plus muchen­hanced route ac­cess and con­nec­tiv­ity, has played a part in the growth of the des­ti­na­tion.”

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