STATE-OWNED Air Zimbabwe’s market share for the period ending December 31, 2012 plunged to 0,8% from 27% in 2009 triggered by viability problems confronting the national carrier, a Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) report has shown.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
The airline has, however, embarked on a restructuring programme and is leasing planes for the flagship Harare-Johannesburg route.
The downward spiral came at a time when other airlines were feasting on Air Zimbabwe’s inability to service its routes with South African Airways increasing frequency into Zimbabwe.
“Air Zimbabwe dropped in its market share from 27% in 2009 to a mere 0,8% in 2012 and suspended its links to Asia and China in particular. Chinese arrivals have, as a result, been on a continual decline and currently take up a mere 14% of the Asian arrival market share,” ZTA said.
The ZTA, however, said the national carrier should consider flying to Israel in a bid to claw market share.
Germany, according to the ZTA, remained the biggest European market for Zimbabwe followed by UK and France.
According to ZTA’s tourism trend and statistics report, for the period under review tourism receipts recorded a significant growth despite the overall dismal performance in tourist arrivals. The year closed with the receipt figure registering a total of $749 million up from $662 million in 2011 (13% increase).
This increase, according to the tourism regulator, mainly pointed to high expenditure patterns by some of the traditional overseas markets as well as an injection from the domestic market owing to the economic stability currently prevailing in the country.
Average hotel room and bed occupancy level, the report further stated, remained inert at 52% and 37% in 2012. Lodges, however, performed well with the average room occupancy rising from 35% to 51% while average bed occupancy levels rose from 29% to 41%. Domestic tourists were the major clientele in the majority of lodges owing to affordable prices.
“Research has also revealed that the decline from the Chinese market is to an extent a result of the decrease in Chinese projects in Zimbabwe in 2012. Japan remains the biggest Asian market for Zimbabwe, taking up close to half of all the Asian arrivals in 2012,” the report said.
The United States remains Zimbabwe’s largest market in the Americas (85% market share) and increased by 4 percentage points during the period under review.
“Despite the introduction of Fly Emirates, which connects this region, arrivals from the Middle East fell by 55% during the review period. All middle East countries recorded decreases with Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates recording the worst declines.
“The fall in Iranian arrivals may be attributed to the prevailing international sanctions which have been imposed over the recent years which have seen Iran’s economy contracting by 1% in 2012. This in turn impacts on the people’s propensity to travel,” the report said.
“Israel, which has been the leading positive performing Middle East market over the years also recorded a decline (37 %) although it maintained the highest market share of 75% in 2012. This market share is actually bigger compared to 53% in 2011, which still placed it as the biggest Middle East market for 2011. This continues to emphasise the fact that Israel is a potentially lucrative market which needs to be pursued seriously by Zimbabwe.”