Zimbabwe’s tourism receipts reached US$580 million in the nine months to September 2022, reflecting a 137,7 percent jump from US$244 million realised over the same period last year.
The growth in receipts is attributable to increased efforts at promoting Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) tourism and the relaxation of travel restrictions as the countries globally emerged from Covid-19 lockdowns.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs Godfrey Koti said investment into the sector also grew to US$306 million between January and September this year from US$90 million in the corresponding period last year.
The tourism industry was the hardest hit by measures rolled out by the Government to contain Covid-19 as global economies also imposed travel restrictions in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
“In terms of the quantum of the tourism receipts, we are looking at around US$579 million to US$580 million which compared to the same period last year, we made only US$244 million — the growth there is about 137 percent.
“The attribution of the growth goes to the inactivity that we have seen over the years because of Covid-19.
“Coming into the tourism investment, we received about US$306 million which is quite a significant amount compared to the same period last year, where we got about US$90 million of investments into the sector,” he said.
“It’s interesting that we have seen new properties coming up, especially within the accommodation side of things, and a lot of activities.”
Turning to tourist arrivals during the period under review, Mr Koti said the year saw a positive outturn as international arrivals rose by 256 percent while statistics for visitors from Africa improved by 130 percent from the corresponding period last year.
“Just to give you the figures, around 260 000 tourists came from the international market and then from Africa, we witnessed about 432 000 tourists giving us a 130 percent jump from the same period last year.
“So, this year from January to September we had received about 692 000 visitors compared to 261 000 in the previous year.
“We have seen quite a huge jump in the growth of MICE tourism and domestic tourism has done quite well, we have seen quite a huge jump in terms of people travelling within the country,” he said, adding that the ZimBho Campaign is also spurring growth in the tourism industry.
Players in the tourism sector, Mr Koti said, took time to refine their products with a majority of them this year finishing the projects that they had started.
“People were refining the products while we were in Covid times and now they have just come out to finish up the projects that they had started.
“There are also some greenfield projects that have come through as well within the accommodation sector and activities side of things . . . we are attributing this also to the drive which the country has had through the re-engagement efforts,” he said.
The Second Republic, which came into being in November 2017 led by President Mnangagwa has embarked on an engagement and re-engagement drive with the international community after close to 20 years of isolation from the global village on the back of the successful land reform programme in 2000.
In line with the macro-economic recovery and growth thrust under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), the Government in 2020 launched the National Tourism and Recovery Strategy that seeks to drive the country towards a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.
Mr Koti said the tourism sector remains optimistic about achieving a US$5 billion tourism milestone on the back of the positive outlook Zimbabwe is experiencing in the tourism industry.
He said this is despite the negative impact Covid-19 has had on the tourism sector globally.
“If you look at the trajectory that we are experiencing at the moment, I think we are slowly moving towards that we have had quite a huge amount of unfortunate incidents like the pandemic which we are just coming out of which is not over yet now.
“Despite that fact, I think we have fared quite positively and we are optimistic that we should be able to build a sector that works towards a US$5 billion economy.
“It’s not going to be a walk in the park but we are very optimistic and grateful that the Government will continue to support while the private sector will also continue to lead this onslaught to try to get the targets that were set by our principals,” said Mr Koti.
In the 2023 national budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $14,2 billion to the Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
The resources are for covering the development and implementation of environmental and tourism policies and programmes including environmental protection.
Tourist arrivals are expected to increase to 1,4 million in 2023 while receipts are projected at US$623 million.
Economist Mrs Tracy Dube said given the Covid-19-induced disturbances in the tourism sector, achieving the US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025 needs a lot of hard work by all stakeholders.
“Although the statistics given by ZTA are showing significant improvement in terms of tourism growth, the country still has a mammoth task to achieve the US$5 billion tourism economy.
“If we look at the sector’s receipts for the period January to September though there is a remarkable improvement from the same period last year, one is tempted to conclude that the targeted US$5 billion economy is far to achieve by 2025 largely on account of the negative impact of Covid-19.
“By and large, we foresee a situation where the tourism economy would have grown to US$3 billion by 2025 if stakeholders continue working in unison to improve the industry’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product,” she said.
Tourism is Zimbabwe’s third economic mainstay after mining and agriculture presently contributing about US$1,9 billion to GDP.
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