Golden Sibanda recently in Victoria Falls
Preliminary statistics show that Zimbabwe recorded a 9 percent increase in tourist arrivals last year to 2 million, largely driven by African visitors who pass through Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke told delegates at the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism convention last week that data from the country’s smaller ports of entry is still to be collated.
“I will give you the figures, which are still preliminary. In 2014, we received 1,8 million. In 2015, our arrivals increased by 9 percent and we are now slightly over 2 million,” Mr Kaseke said.
“The figures are, however, preliminary in the sense that other figures from the smaller border posts have not been collated,” he said
The ZTA chief executive said Africa contributed 1,76 million, Americas 76 751, Asia 35 000, Europe 149 000, Middle East 3 990 and Oceania 25 000 from 26 000 in 2014.
“We are happy with that performance. We want to look at the receipts from that 2 million to see whether it contributed the same percentage in economic growth terms.
“Our major worry, which we have been talking about for a long time in the ministry are arrivals from outsource markets . . . the overseas markets. We use 1999 as our base line because that is when we received the highest ever number of tourists in the country, which was almost 2,5 million,” he said.
And in 1999, overseas, (Europe, America, Asia and Middle East contributed 30 percent to the arrivals but in 2015 they accounted for just 14 percent.
“The issue is quite disturbing. We would be happy if we could recover that market.”
This is because the visitors have an average expenditure of $1 600 person per visit while African visitors spend on average $150 per person per visit.
Mr Kaseke said the country’s tourism receipts have grown from about $500 million in 2009 to about $827 million in 2014. It is expected that receipts will show an increase for the just ended year.
While Mr Kaseke would not give regional comparisons using latest figures for 2015, he gave insights of the performance of countries in the regions, which is dominated by neighbouring South Africa.
The ZTA boss said that in terms of regional market share South Africa received the largest chunk at 42 percent in 2014, Botswana and Mozambique 9 percent each, Angola and Zimbabwe (8) each, Swaziland and Tanzania (5) each, Malawi and Zambia (4) each, Angola (3), Lesotho (2) and DRC (1).
Globally, Africa recorded a 3 percent drop to 53 million international tourist arrivals last year as the rest of the world recorded a surge in visitors, latest statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) show.
According to the UNWTO Tourism Barometer, the North African region, at 8 percent, accounted for the biggest drop in arrivals on the continent while sub-Saharan Africa recorded a one percent decrease.
The drop in arrivals in North Africa was likely influenced by disturbances in the region and a ban on international flights to Egypt in the last quarter of the year by countries such as Russia and Britain after a plane carrying tourists crashed.
“Limited available data for Africa points to a 3 percent decrease in international arrivals, reaching a total of 53 million,” the UNWTO said, noting that availability of data on the continent remained scarce.
“In North Africa arrivals declined by 8 percent and in sub-Saharan Africa by one percent though the latter returned to positive growth in the second half of the year.”
The UNWTO, however, anticipates that Africa will rebound this year, registering a growth of between 2 and 5 percent in arrivals.
Despite the slump registered in Africa, overall international tourist arrivals surged 4,4 percent to 1,2 billion in 2015.