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Tourist arrivals jump 108pc in Q1

Zimbabwe recorded a 108 percent increase in tourist arrivals to 271 188 in the first quarter of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2022, indicating the sector’s recovery from the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country, like the rest of the world, was affected by the pandemic that killed millions of people across the globe.

However, despite the respiratory infection’s adverse impact, Zimbabwe successfully managed Covid-19 spread with the country recognised across the world as one of the best management strategies.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said during the period under review, tourism receipts improved by 36 percent compared to the same period last year.

“The first quarter of 2023 saw a 108 percent increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same period last year. Tourism receipts rose by 36 percent compared to last year while the national average room occupancy results experienced a four-percentage point growth in average room occupancies from 33 percent in 2022 to 37 percent this year,” ZTA said in response to questions by this publication.

ZTA chief executive officer Ms Winnie Muchanyuka was quoted in the media as saying the sector received a total of 271 188 in the first quarter from 130 536 in 2022 a clear sign that the sector is on a full recovery path.

“Most markets registered growth with arrivals from Africa recording a 150 percent increase while arrivals from the Middle East rose by 373 percent, a figure that doubled in the period under review.

“We, unfortunately, recorded a 17 percent drop in the Oceania market,” she said.

“The increase in international tourist arrivals into the country is largely due to the resumption of travel and trade in the region, global tourism recovery and increased accessibility.

“This increase is also a result of promotional initiatives such as the Visit Zimbabwe, MeetInZim and ZimBho campaigns, which we embarked both locally and on the international market during the period under review.”

The growth in receipts is attributable to increased efforts at promoting Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) tourism, domestic tourism promotion and the relaxation of travel restrictions as the countries globally emerged from Covid-19 lockdowns.

Zimbabwe realised US$178,7 million in tourism receipts in the first quarter compared to US$131 million received during the same period last year.

Ms Muchanyuka said this year’s first quarter performance saw continued recovery in the accommodation sector.

“The national average room occupancy results experienced a four-percentage point growth in average room occupancies from 33 percent in 2022 to 37 percent in 2023.

“Although some regions saw decreased performance in the review period, the overall increase in occupancy levels was driven by growths in Harare, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge.

“These three regions account for over 52 percent of the national hotel room capacity and thus have a sway on the overall performance,” she said.

The ZTA boss noted that the first quarter buoyant results remain closely hinged to the resilience of the domestic market which continues to be very active in Harare and Beitbridge and the resumption of international tourism in Victoria Falls.

The positive performance witnessed in the first quarter sets a promising footing for tourism growth in the remainder of the year.

The sector’s performance is expected to remain positive throughout the year, supported by the upward trajectory of inbound tourism.

In addition, domestic tourism is also expected to continue boosting the sector and robust marketing efforts are being invested despite the challenging economic environment.

According to the latest United World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Tourism Barometer, the tourism sector’s strong recovery pace will continue in 2023.

At the close of the first quarter, international tourist arrivals reached 80 percent of the pre-pandemic levels, indicating a significant rebound.

During this period, an estimated 235 million tourists travelled globally, more than double the number from the same period last year.

Revised data for 2022 shows that over 960 million tourists travelled internationally, recovering two-thirds by 66 percent of pre-pandemic numbers.

According to the report, Africa achieved 88 percent of 2019 levels.

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