Tourism sector on rebound as COVID-19 recedes

Staff Writer

Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is set to rebound at the back of relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and opening up of international travel by most countries.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) 2021 Second Quarter (Q2) statistics, the country recorded 129 percent increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same period, the previous year.

“The country received 77 530 tourist arrivals, compared to 33 910 arrivals who were recorded during the same period in 2020.

“This is probably due to the eased COVID-19 restrictions, which then resulted in more travel,” read the report.

Of the 77 530 tourists, 54 908 were reported to have been from Africa, while 12 538 were from Europe.

“Currently most countries are relaxing travel restrictions they had set against international travel. So travelling again will surely speed up the recovery of our industry,” said the acting chief executive of ZTA, Givemore Chidzidzi.

He, however noted that domestic tourism was currently outperforming international tourism.

“Domestic tourism is performing better than international, probably due to previous international travel bans or general perception against visiting other countries by many after the pandemic. Significant recovery has been noted in resort towns such as Nyanga and Kariba, where hotel occupancy rate improved by 20% and 18% respectively,” he said.

Victoria Falls was said to have remained depressed, averaging 10% room occupancy since most of its tourists are usually international. As of Nyanga, he attributed its improved performance to strategic workshops by most corporate companies and NGOs, while Kariba was due to holiday makers.

Internationally, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also updated its advisory policy, to allow vaccinated US citizens to travel internationally without the need to quarantine.

“Vaccinated citizens do not need to get tested before leaving the US unless the destination they are visiting requires it, however they do need to show a negative test result (or documentation of recovery from COVID-19) before boarding a flight to the United States,” read CDC’s website.

According to ZTA, tourism contributed 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2018 and 2019, respectively. But, with business slowing down last year, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is estimated to have lost at least $1bn in potential revenue.

Tourism is an essential part of Zimbabwe’s economy, as a roadmap to expand the industry to $6 billion by 2023.