THE tourism sector recorded a marginal increase in tourist arrivals in 2013 with visitors from Africa contributing the highest number of tourists, an official at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said.
Addressing a tourism consultative forum in Harare recently, ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the arrivals rose to 1,8 million in 2013, a marginal increase from 1,7 million recorded in 2012.
He said transit tourists constituted 592 303 of these arrivals.
Kaseke said on average expenditure by visitors from mainland Africa was around $250 per trip based on the 2004 Visitor Exit Survey and due to Zimbabwe’s geographic location, the destination was naturally a transit hub in the region.
“The great traffic from Africa is usually visitors who are transiting through the country to South Africa and Tanzania mainly for trade purposes.
“On average, these people spend at least 1,5 to two nights either in their vehicles, public transport, in collective commercial accommodation or in private homes,” Kaseke said.
He said the negative destination brand continued to haunt the nation.
Kaseke said European tourist arrivals were 128 901 in 2013, a decline of 66% from the peak period of 1999 which had a record 380 113 European visitors.
“The period 1980 to 1999 arrivals average growth rate was 14% per annum. Had this growth been sustained, over 14 million arrivals would have been realised in year 2013,” he said.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said the tourism industry’s contribution to the economy was currently estimated at about 10% and had the potential to grow to 15% by 2015.
Chinamasa said the average hotel room and bed occupancy levels was around 59% and 41%, respectively and were expected to improve in 2014 to 61% and 42%.
“The tourism revenue receipts, however, do not seem to tally with the recorded increase in tourist arrivals. There is, therefore, an urgent need for Zimbabwe to embrace the Tourism Satellite Account module — a statistical package designed to accurately measure the sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product,” Chinamasa said.