Friday, September 27, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) UK, US drive spike in overseas visitors
06/09/2013 00:00:00
by Roman Moyo

ZIMBABWE recorded a 12 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2013, with 859,995 visitors coming into the country compared to 767,393 during the same period last year.

According to figures released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) on Thursday, the ever increasing regional trade and commerce also contributed immensely to this growth in arrivals, through the activities of business tourists, cross border traders and transiting tourists, mostly drawn from DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

“The second quarter of 2013 marked the build up to the harmonised elections. Tourist arrivals usually tend to decline towards, during and after an election. Surprisingly, the elections had little effect on tourist arrivals with a few exceptions such as Botswana, Argentina, USA, Singapore, Germany, Italy and Israel whose arrivals rose in the first quarter, but, suddenly declined in the second quarter,” said ZTA.

The market share for the overseas arrivals into Zimbabwe stood at 13 percent, compared to the market share for African arrivals, at 87 percent. This share went up one percentage point this year from 12 percent in 2012.

The combined arrivals from all overseas markets rose by 20 percent this year compared to last year, on the backdrop of exceptional increases from Europe (26 percent) and Asia (60 percent) with UK, France and China specifically registering outstanding performances.

Although registering a six percent decline, the United States registered the most overseas visitors with 19,681, down from 20,860 during the same period last year.
The United Kingdom saw a 72 percent jump in visitors from 10,499 in the first half of 2012 to 18,007 this year.

The first half of this year, average hotel room occupancy levels rose by two percentage points to stand at 41percent, from 39 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the average hotel bed occupancy levels, contracted by five percentage points from 37 percent in 2012 to 32 percent this year.

According to ZTA, Harare and Masvingo recorded significant decline in occupancies and research has shown that this was largely due to reduced conferencing activities during the first half of 2013 as compared to 2012 whose whole length had constitution making activities which had spilled over from 2011.

Notable increases were recorded in Victoria Falls and Midlands along with Hwange, Nyanga and Bulawayo which had modest increases.

"Increases in Victoria Falls during the first half of the year were to a certain extent caused by the clients rescheduling their intended bookings to earlier in the year, so as to avoid the hustle and bustle connected with the UNWTO General Assembly in the second half of the year,” the ZTA noted.

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