Tourist arrivals are set to double within three years on the back of aggressive marketing and image improvement campaigns of the country, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said.
Arrivals were 1,04 million in the first half of the year, up 9,5% from the same period last year. Treasury projects arrivals to reach 2,3 million by year end.
ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke told a visiting delegation of Spanish tour operators that Zimbabwe was weighed down by image issues, which he said would be dealt with within six to nine months.
“Within the next three years, we would have more than doubled the current arrivals. Definitely, that is going to be done. I don’t see any reason why we cannot do that. We are working on that, but we need partners like tour operators and agents like you,” he said.
Kaseke said the new dispensation under President Emmerson Mnangagwa had brought hope for a country which had isolated itself or been isolated by other countries in the international community.
“If we put our act together and approach this issue very soundly, within six to nine months, there will be no image issues about Zimbabwe. This brings to you the positivity that I was talking about. You are coming at a time when Zimbabwe is poised for growth. We see within two years doubling of the number of arrivals from any other market,” Kaseke said.
The Spaniards are in the country on a nine-day familiarisation tour under a programme organised by ZTA in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines and Kobo Safaris.
The team will visit Masvingo, Bulawayo, Matobo National Park, Hwange National Park, and Victoria Falls.
Currently, the Spanish market contributes 6,5% of all rivals from Europe and is the sixth largest contributor of arrivals from the bloc after the United Kingdom and Ireland, Germany, France, Benelux and Italy, contributing
8 950 arrivals in 2016.
The arrivals from Spain were 36% above the prior year.
Tourism is seen as a low-hanging fruit and provides the quickest turnaround, ahead of other sectors such as manufacturing and mining.
In his 2018 National Budget, Finance and Economic Planning minister Patrick Chinamasa said the thrust next year would be on strengthening destination marketing, paying special attention to high spending markets to increase tourism receipts.
“. . . the 2018 National Budget will increase allocation for the sector so as to enhance marketing of the country as a preferred destination for tourism, as well as support the promotion of domestic tourism with a bias towards improving community-based tourism enterprises to empower local communities,” he said.
Chinamasa said it was also imperative that the country continues building on current efforts to improve the requisite airport and road infrastructure, for increased connectivity, as well as the provision of utilities and ICT, as a means to creating an enabling environment for the industry.–newday