By Isdore Guvamombe
Since the coming in of the new political dispensation in Zimbabwe, tourism receipts have dramatically increased and statistics from the Victoria Falls alone, can confirm, captains of the tourism industry have said.
Hotels in the Victoria Falls, it emerged, are now fully booked for September and October, which has not happened in recent years, as Zimbabwe continues to open for business.
In presentations made on the side lines of the Africa Indaba Travel and Tourism Expo, in Durban recently, Africa Albida tourism chief executive Mr Ross Kennedy, Rainbow Tourism Group chief executive Tendai Madzivanyika and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief Executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke, separately acknowledged to boon in tourism.
Mr Kennedy said there was a 48 percent increase in air traffic arrivals at the Victoria Falls International Airport from January to April compared to the same period last years.
“This is not just a percentage. The additional tourist arrivals via the airport are actually 17 680 from last year’s figures.
“Although the Victoria Falls Bridge has not done the same in terms of compiling statistics, the border posts around Victoria Falls recorded a 30 percent increase which is 87 000 people in the same period.
“There are now 55 scheduled flights from Victoria Falls each week and if you ask me, what was there last year, you get nothing near half of that. Try and link this to the rest of the country and see the multiplying effect.
“Our industry is driven by perception. One man went to Davos (President Mnangagwa) and things changed. We export more to happen this year,” he said.
In a separate presentation RTG chief executive Mr Madzivanyika, confirmed Mr Kennedy’s story and said the new dispensation had really opened the fortunes of the industry.
“There is serious recognition of the efforts by the new Government by the international community due to the re-engagement efforts. Indeed the efforts are bearing fruits. In the quarter of this year alone, our hotel occupancy increased by 20 percent.
“Where is the world have you seen such phenomenal growth in four months? It can only be in Zimbabwe. We all now have hope. Hope makes you face up and the moment you face up, you are going forward,” said Mr Madzivanyika.
ZTA CE Mr Karikoga Kaseke said he was worried by the capacity of the Victoria Falls to have enough rooms for a boom in tourism.
“There is a an tour operator exhibiting here who approached me yesterday to say he has failed to get accommodation in Victoria Falls for a group of 20 in September. The industry then told me it is full up to end of October. It is going to be worse.
“We must start working on our room capacity,” he said.