Zimbabwe’s premier tourist resort, Victoria Falls, has this year, witnessed a tourism boom equivalent to a record last experienced in 1999, Africa Albida Tourism, chief executive, Ross Kennedy has said.
BY CHARLES LAITON
In a statement last week, Kennedy, who heads a leading hospitality group, said room occupancies in Victoria Falls for the six months ended June 30, 2017 had seen an increase of 25,4% over the same period in 2016.
This, he said, equates to close to 19 000 additional rooms sold over that period by 10 hotels, which together have 1 125 rooms and measure arrivals monthly.
Kennedy said the feedback in Victoria Falls shows that this same trend is also evident across the rest of the sector, which represents a further 700 rooms.
“The trend of growth in tourism arrivals into Victoria Falls is ongoing, with the forward booking profile getting longer,” he said.
“People are booking much further in advance than they were two years ago.
“We have bookings well into 2019, including big international incentive travel groups, a market that has been largely absent since 1999.”
Kennedy said a number of the hotels in Victoria Falls would record occupancies of 90% and higher between August and November.
“This has not been seen since the peak tourist arrival years of 1994 to 1999,” he said.
“The positive downstream impact on national and regional tourism, plus the economy is significant.
“The increased tourism levy revenue stream will enable the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to further enhance their marketing and branding of our world class destinations.”
Kennedy further said the positive impact of the rising numbers on the local economy and the tourism sector was substantial.
BA Comair international sales and interline manager, Margaret Kinsman said the airline was operating larger aircraft on the Johannesburg to Victoria Falls route and over the coming months it would be offering more daily flights on several days of the week.
“Between July and November 2017, three additional flights per week have been scheduled on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, using a B737-400, which accommodates 150 passengers,” she said.
“The airline is also licensed to operate these three additional services per week year-round as required, should there be demand.”
South African Airways operates an Airbus A330-200 with 222 seats, which is 88 seats more than their previous aircraft capacity.
In addition, Victoria Falls has new airlines servicing the destination, namely Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airways, linking Victoria Falls to East Africa.