THE tourism sector recorded a 12% increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of the year compared to last year same period due to improved destination image, a report from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has shown.
Report by Victoria Mtomba
Tourist arrivals increased to 859 995 compared to 767 393 over the same period in 2012.
“The ever-increasing regional trade and commerce also contributed immensely to this growth in arrivals, through the activities of business tourists, cross-border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia,” ZTA said.
During the six-month period, arrivals from Africa increased by 11% to 749 301 with South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia becoming the main source markets, while arrivals from the Americas declined by 3% to 23 764 due to the decrease recorded from the United States arrivals.
Asia recorded a 60% growth in arrivals into the country.
The ZTA report further showed that hotel room occupancy was up 2% to 41% from 39% in 2012 while average hotel bed occupancy levels declined by five percentage points to 32% from 37%.
The report showed that increases were noted in Victoria Falls and Midlands along with Nyanga and Bulawayo that had modest increases.
The report showed that improved connectivity through air transport enhanced the performance of resort areas in the period under review.
ZTA reported that the second quarter of 2013 marked the build-up to the harmonised elections and tourist arrivals usually tended to decline towards, during and after an election.
“Surprisingly, the elections had little effect on tourist arrivals with a few exceptions such as Botswana, Argentina, USA, Singapore, Germany, Italy and Israel whose arrivals rose in the first quarter, but suddenly declined in the second quarter,” the report said.
“The combined arrivals from all overseas markets rose by 20% this year compared to last year, on the backdrop of exceptional increases from Europe (26%) and Asia (60%) with UK, France and China specifically registering outstanding performances.”