victoria-falls-.jpgLast year, the local tourism sector contributed 7.5% of the Gross Domestic Product.

The first quarter of 2011 has recorded a 16% increase in the number of tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe.
This has been attributed to hard work, aggressive marketing by the sector and good perception management.

While Zimbabwe and the US may not be the best of friends politically, Americans continue to flock to the country dominating the market with an 81% share of tourists’ arrivals.

Tourist arrivals from the US have increased by 27% in 2011. Asia has the second largest overseas market share of 24% after the US.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority spokesperson, Mr. Sugar Chagonda believes the year 2011 promises to bring positive results to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry.

Globally, the tourism industry is expected to grow by between 4 and 5% while the region’s anticipated growth is 13%.

2011 also saw the average hotel room occupancy levels rising from 32% in 2010 to 36% this year, while average bed occupancy levels also rose from 26% to 27%.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Cde Walter Mzembi who expressed satisfaction with the steady growth believes tourism is a product of international re-engagement that mostly depends on an environment of peace and stability.

He however said lack of funds for refurbishment and recapitalisation is hindering the sector from operating at full capacity.

zim wild.jpgCde Mzembi said his Ministry is engaging the Ministry of Finance to consider reinstating the Statutory Instrument 46 and 60 where stakeholders can import equipment duty free in the mid term fiscal policy to enable the recapitalisation of the sector.

Bronte Hotel Managing Director, Mr Graham Dickens noted that skills development and professional training should be key if the sector is to continue on a steady growth.

The increase in tourist arrivals clearly shows that world over there is a reverse in the perception of Zimbabwe as a destination.

The last few months have seen a number of international artists visiting the country proving that the country is a safe tourist destination, a situation which analysts believe is the endorsement of the new tourism brand – ‘Zimbabwe a world of wonders.’