SA tourism to Zim down sharply


Kigali — South African tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe have declined sharply by about half — and the weak rand was to blame, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has said.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry  Minister Walter Mzembi
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi

Mzembi told News24 in an interview on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda, over the weekend that Zimbabwe used to have about 2,1 million tourists arrivals in the country, of which almost 1,5 million were South African.

“It went down by almost 50%, and that is not assisting (the struggling economy),” he said of the economic situation in the country.

“The bullish United States dollar has made Zimbabwe as a destination uncompetitive for South Africans and anyone not using US dollars,” he said.

Mzembi said Zimbabwe’s economy “has been gliding through a recession some time” on the back of declining productivity as well as the “bullish” US dollar — which is the main currency in use in Zimbabwe.

He said 70% of Zimbabwe’s imports were from South Africa, and 77,8% of its exports went through the country and about two million lived in South Africa “as part of our Diaspora”.

“You can’t disregard or wish away umbilical relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mzembi said recent measures by Zimbabwe to curb imports from South Africa were adopted to arrest the country’s decline in productivity, but he admitted the measures “could have been conceived better”.

He said, for instance, the ban on the importation of South African goods that were also being manufactured in Zimbabwe also counted for ordinary travellers carrying household goods, and these have now been exempted.

“You want to allow space for the travelling public to be able to import within duty remit,” he said.

Other issues related to the ban, including the concerns raised by small traders who protested against it earlier this month, would be discussed “on a bureaucratic” level with South Africa’s trade and industry department, he said.

Asked how the country would deal with traders exporting goods from South Africa to other countries via Zimbabwe, Mzembi said the implementation of this still needed to be finalised.

“All the unintended consequences have been acknowledge. The current exercise is to review and smoothen the implementation,” he said.

“If there are any issues that need to be escalated at a political level, politicians will be engaged,” he said, adding that it wasn’t at this stage yet.

See also: SA tourism to Zim down sharply


  1. For as long as Zimbabwe uses Rand and USD…it will be an unattractive tourist venue . I can get a cheaper holiday in Kruger Park than at Hwange Game reserve

  2. the issue of too many roadblocks and corrupt traffic cops is the major issue walter, do not blame the weak rand, the tourists coming here are loaded with US dollars. Talk to Chombo and get rid of those roadblocks and see what will happen

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  3. You don’t think it’s the stupid roadblocks every 5km that put people off????
    Last week a group of 17 South Africans were coming to do a self drive holiday all around Zim, Zimra confiscated their groceries. They said they will never holiday here again.

  4. what is wrong with the economics of the exchange rates? When you charge you consider the exchange rate, not so? You want to attract foreigners, know their currency and adjust yours like wise, what a minister.

  5. ZanuPF logic is illogical. It is always someone or something to blame as they are all so smart as to fail to pay their workers???

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