Figures from recently released Tourism Sector Performance First Half 2018 shows tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe reached 1,148,114. The numbers represents 9% increase from 1,057,244 within the same period in 2017.
This growth was largely driven by a 28% increase in overseas arrivals which grew from 178,469 to 229,091 in 2018. The overview performance of the country’s tourism continues to be positive and the outlook of the sector is encouraging.
This has especially been prompted by the renewed image of the country as a safe and must visit destination as evidenced by the positive destination reviews from the international community.
Arrivals from the Asian market rose by 59% to 50,433 from 31,721 in 2017 making Asia the highest increasing source region for Zimbabwe in the first half of 2018. The increase was mostly driven by surges in arrivals from South Korea (122%), Japan (53%), China (24%) and India (73%). The recent upgrading of the Chinese and Indian visas is expected to continue yielding more positive results in the near future. In the SADC region available figures indicate that Asian arrivals into South Africa fell by 4.7% from 159 763 in 2017 to 152 317 in the first half of 2018.
Arrivals from Europe rose by 29% to 101,101 from 78,225 in 2017 with increases in most major markets including UK (19%), France (34%) and Germany (15%). Of major note is Spain and Portugal which rose by 75% each. Europe remains the largest overseas source region for the country with a market share of 9% which is second to Africa. More than half (59%) of all European arrivals were through the Victoria Falls region highlighting the growing contribution of the resort town to overseas arrivals into the country. Elsewhere in the region South Africa recorded 624,905 arrivals from Europe in the first half of the year representing a 2% fall from 784 120 to 767 050 in 2017.
The Americas had a 10% increase in arrivals in the first half of 2018. The region contributed 919,023 arrivals up from 878,775 in the first half of 2017. It is important to note that outbound travel from the United States had a slow growth estimated at 2%. All other major markets from the Americas increased with the greatest increase by 76% registered for Canada which rose to 6,455 from 3,664 in 2017.
Tourist arrivals from Oceania into the country continue to grow, having gone up by 18% from 14,616 in 2017 to 17,511 in 2018. Arrivals from this region were anchored by a 37% growth in arrivals from New Zealand.
Despite the direct connection that the country has with the Middle East through Emirates Airlines, arrivals from the Middle East have remained suppressed at below 5,000. Although the Middle East continues to trail behind in its contribution to total arrivals into the country there was a notable increase in the first half of the year. This source region recorded a 34% increase in tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe. About 76% of these arrivals have been from Israel.
Arrivals from mainland Africa were 919,023 from 878,775 representing a 5% increase despite a 34% decline in arrivals from South African. Considering that South Africa is Zimbabwe’s major source market from mainland Africa, there is great need to tackle the challenges that have caused this market to shrink year on year over the last decade. Issues like congestion on both sides of the Beitbridge border post and bad roads have remained outstanding for a long time and have contributed in choking self-drive tourists from this market. Currently 41% of the arrivals from the region are indirectly transiting through the country.
Story by: Samuel Obeng Appah