BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S tourism sector has stagnated, recording a percentage growth in arrivals in the first quarter of the year, an industry official has said.
In the first quarter last year, tourist arrivals reached 554 417, which was a 15% increase from the 480 510 recorded in the previous quarter.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority acting chief executive Rita Likukuma told NewsDay in an interview that the tourism sector was heavily weighed down by a struggling domestic economy.
“The tourism industry is on a growth path. In the first quarter, we recorded some growth, be it small, but we had a 1% growth in the first quarter last year,” Likukuma said without
giving further detail.
“Our trajectory is that it is going to continue to grow, and we are going to expand the source markets, particularly the overseas markets. We are seeing quite a bit of growth, and we
are covering Asia, the United Kingdom and the Americas as sources of tourists that come into Zimbabwe”.
“Our biggest challenge is to try and grow domestic tourism. Obviously, domestic tourism tends to track the economic performance because you are relying on your local people to take up
the tourism product.”
“So, in situations where times are hard, people need the basics. So, domestically, I think tourism is falling into the category of a luxury item. But still, even with those challenges,
we must grow that product,” she said.
In 2018, the southern African nation recorded 2 567 million international tourist arrivals, a 6% growth from the 2,4 million received in 2017.
“So, we are expecting this year to do upwards of 2,6 million,” Likukuma said.
The growth was driven by the notable growth in arrivals from all source regions and most major markets, with the exception of the Americas.
Since 2017 tourist arrivals from overseas markets have increased by 49% from 318 751 in 2016 to 515 440 in 2018.