Authorities in Harare are worried as tourist arrivals from South Africa decline despite a 5% increase in the overall number of African visitors to 400 000 during the 2017 first quarter period. According to a statement, South Africa is considered as a major source market for the travel and hospitality industry in Zimbabwe. This is owing to the strong trade, historical and economic ties between the two Southern African countries.
On Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority said that African travelers continue to account for the bulk (about 84 percent) of arrivals in Zimbabwe.
The other source markets, Asia, Oceania (accounting for one percent), America and Europe (accounting for seven percent) contributed nearly 80 000 visitors, taking the total number of arrivals in Zimbabwe for the period to 479 700.
However, the ZTA is more worried that arrivals from South Africa are stagnating. South Africa is also a major hub for connecting international travelers to Zimbabwe. Tourist arrivals from South Africa declined by a massive 27 percent to 96 500 while visitors from Tanzania, DRC and Seychelles where 81 percent, 54 percent and 103 percent up respectively.
“The stagnation in arrivals from South Africa, the country’s major market is of major concern as the market is Zimbabwe’s major market,” said the ZTA in its 2017 First Quarter Tourism Performance Highlights report released on Wednesday.
The ZTA further said that the declining arrivals from South Africa call for “serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues” especially at Beitbridge Border Post.
Experts say Zimbabwe’s competitiveness as a prime destination is decreasing owing to police roadblocks, poor infrastructure such as roads and expensive US$ denominated prices.
“There is also need to seriously look at upgrading roads especially the Harare Beitbridge highway,” ZTA said in its report.
Zimbabwe Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi last week criticized police road blocks in Zimbabwe, saying Zimbabwe was not a “conflict zone” hence the tourism industry wants to “ be policed decently so that we facilitate legitimate travel” into and out of the country.
Overall arrivals into Zimbabwe from mainland Africa registered 400 290 foreign tourist arrivals up from 380 790 in 2016. This represents a five percent increase.
Chinese arrivals into Zimbabwe have also been declining and this has led to the four percent decline in overall numbers for Asia which fell to 13 385. Arrivals from the Asian market declined by four percent from 14 004 to 13 385 in 2017. On the contrary, Asian arrivals into South Africa have been on the increase.
Chinese visitors to South Africa surged to 21 137 during the first two months of the current year. In total, Asian visitors to the continent’s most industrialised economy rose to 52 319 over the January to February 2017 period. Domestic tourism in Zimbabwe has also taken a knock owing to mounting economic woes that have precipitated cash shortages in the economy.
Room occupancy levels for Harare, Beitbridge and Nyanga have been down by between two percent and seven percent although Vic Falls was two percent up.
“These substantial negative growths were as a result of reduced utilisation of double room occupancy by government, the corporate world and NGO’s to implement cost cutting measures purposes of viability. Declines were also a result of limited discretionary incomes in the domestic market,” said the ZTA.
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