The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has unveiled a Visit Zimbabwe campaign targeting three markets, in an ambitious bid to grow tourist arrivals.
BY NDAMU SANDU
The campaign targets South Africa, China and Russia, ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said on Sunday night at the closing ceremony for the Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo, which was held in Bulawayo.
Kaseke said Russia should do well for Zimbabwe because “it is doing well for Egypt and Kenya”.
“Buyers from Russia seem to be happy and saying they will package Zimbabwe next year,” he said.
Kaseke said Zimbabwe had not done much to lure tourists from Asia since the launch of the Look East Policy over a decade ago.
“Zimbabwe announced the Look East Policy, but this has not been supported by similar policies in tourism,” he said, adding that arrivals from China were far much fewer compared to other countries in the region.
“We are not doing much as a marketing board in that area,” he said.
“China is currently rated the highest spenders and largest outbound market compared to other markets.
“Anyone serious about tourism must be serious about China. We need to make sure we do the best we can.”
Kaseke said Zimbabwe should be number two in the region in getting arrivals from China after South Africa.
He said Zimbabwe’s biggest source market was South Africa, with arrivals of about 700 000 last year.
At its peak in 2006, Zimbabwe used to get 1,6 million in arrivals from that country.
Kaseke said South Africa was getting 2,5 million arrivals from Zimbabwe yearly and ZTA was focusing on getting more arrivals from South Africa compared to the number of Zimbabweans who visit South Africa annually.
In the first quarter of 2017, tourist arrivals were 6% up to 479 718 from 450 572 recorded in the comparable period last year. This growth was driven by a 5% uptick from mainland Africa.
Arrivals from the Asian market declined by 4% to 14 004 in the period under review from 13 385 in the comparable period in 2016.
“The decline mainly came as a result of the poor performance of China (43%) in the first three months of the year.
“On the contrary, Asian arrivals into South Africa are on the increase based on the available figures for January and February 2017.
“South Africa has already received over 52 312 Asian arrivals and over 21 137 Chinese arrivals in the first two months [of 2017],” the report said.
Arrivals from South Africa dipped by 27% in the period to 96 587.
ZTA said the drop in arrivals from South Africa was of major concern.
“This calls for serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues, especially at Beitbridge. There is also need to seriously look at upgrading roads, especially the Harare-Beitbridge highway,” it said.
The Tourism and Hospitality Industry ministry has rolled out a roadmap to grow arrivals to five million in 2020 from 2,2 million in 2016.
Tourism is one of the foreign currency earners alongside manufacturing, mining and agriculture.