Tourism in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe Tourism Authority 1

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes. These people are called visitors. Generally speaking, a visitor is classified as a (same-)day visitor if their trip does not include an overnight stay and a tourist if it does include an overnight stay. The purpose of their trip can be for business, leisure or personal reasons, other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited.

If a trip’s main purpose is business/professional, it is often subdivided into two further categories - 'attending meetings, conferences or congresses, trade fairs and exhibitions' and 'other business and professional purposes'.

Types of tourism

There are three basic forms of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism.

  • Domestic tourism refers to activities of a visitor within their country of residence and outside of their home (e.g. a Zimbabwean visiting other parts of Zimbabwe).
  • Inbound tourism refers to the activities of a visitor from outside of country of residence (e.g. a British visiting Zimbabwe).
  • Outbound tourism refers to the activities of a resident visitor outside of their country of residence (e.g. a Zimbabwean visiting another country).[1]

What are tourism products?

Tourism product covers a number of different categories including:

  • Accommodation, i.e. hotels, bed & breakfasts, guest houses, self-catering/serviced apartments, camping, caravanning and home stay
  • Hospitality, i.e. food and beverage serving services, e.g. pubs, restaurants, cafes, private dining for groups/conferences
  • Transport services, e.g. rail, road, water, air networks and rental
  • Guided tours and tourist guides
  • Travel agencies and other reservation services, including tour operators and destination management companies (see travel trade section)
  • Cultural services, e.g. museums, attractions
  • Sports and recreational activities
  • Retail

Zimbabwe Tourism Statistics

Domestic tourism generated around $335 million in revenue in 2018 on the back of increased hotel occupancies and visits to national parks and monuments. Overall the national average hotel occupancies rose by five percent to 53 percent from 48 percent recorded in 2017, figures released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority showed.

"A large fraction of this utilisation (82 percent) is made up of locals mainly on workshops and conferences." "Victoria Falls remains the only region with a low proportion of domestic clientele (25 percent) otherwise all regions registered over 60 percent of their clientele composition from locals", reads the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), 2018 Tourism Performance Report.

Tourist arrivals into the country dropped by 11 percent by the end of 2019 to 2,29 million compared to 2,57 million in 2018 due to destination image issues, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), has said.[2]

The country’s museums and monuments received 189 121 arrivals and of these, 178 951 representing 95 percent were domestic arrivals. On the other hand, national parks received 957 752 tourists and of these 438 561 tourists, making up 46 percent, were domestic arrivals. The ZTA said the compiled figures implied that there was potential to increase domestic arrivals into national parks.[3]

The tourism sector was estimated to have generated $1,050 billion in receipts from international tourists, marking a seven percent growth from $917 million in 2017. Zimbabwe recorded 2,6 million international tourist arrivals in 2018, 6 percent up from 2,4 million received in 2017. The growth in arrivals was driven by the notable growth in arrivals from all source regions and most major markets with the exception of the Americas.

At least 80 percent of tourists received in Zimbabwe came from Africa while the Middle East had the least visitors at just one percent. The overall performance for Zimbabwe’s tourism was very encouraging, with strong results in all the traditional overseas markets which rose by nine percent to 515 440 from 474 421. Since 2017 tourist arrivals from overseas markets have galloped by 49 percent from 318 751 in 2016 to 515 440 in 2018.

“Though we are still to reach the 1999 performance (an all-time high in terms of overseas tourist arrivals, 597 010), the increase was quite significant and signalling a renewed interest on the destination. “It shows that Zimbabwe is warming up to the outside world”, said the ZTA in its report.

The highest (top 5) arrivals from the overseas region in 2018 were USA (95,025), UK and Ireland (72,029), Germany (39,934), South Korea (33,759) and Japan (32,014). The USA remains the biggest overseas market despite arrivals having fallen by one percent and the United Kingdom follows at second.

Zimbabwe's Tourism Industry Target

Zimbabwe developed a roadmap to grow the tourism sector to a US$6 billion industry by 2023 in tandem with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), a top government official has said. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Tourism, Climate Change and Hospitality Industry, Munesuishe Munodawafa who was speaking at the Hospitality of Zimbabwe annual general meeting on 24 November 2019, said the strategic roadmap was tailored to mirror the Vision 2030 strategy which is anchored on growing the economy into an Upper Middle-Income Country status.

However, Munodawafa lamented the Ministry's allocation in the 2020 budget statement as insufficient to meet diverse needs of the ministry including facilitating servicing traditional international markets. He said previously the Ministry had been allocated ZWL$68 million in the 2020 budget statement, which was later reviewed upwards to ZWL$385 million, after consultations.[4]

The tourism sector has the potential to contribute up to 50 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the long term if given adequate support.[2]

Tourism and Coronavirus pandemic

On a normal day at Victoria Falls, hundreds of tourists watch as water from the Zambezi River cascades 108 meters (355 feet). The mist and loud crashing give the falls its local name, Mosi-oa-Tunya, a Lozi-language phrase meaning “the smoke that thunders.”

Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. As one of the country’s most popular tourist sites, it attracts approximately 340,000 visitors to Zimbabwe annually.

But with the threat of the Coronavirus, it is not business as usual at Victoria Falls. With borders closed and international flights grounded, visitors to the falls and across Zimbabwe have disappeared. Without them, tourism, one of the country’s main economic drivers, has slowed to a trickle. According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, 2.5 million tourists generated an estimated $1 billion in revenue in 2018. While tourism dropped by 11% in 2019, the country remained one of the top tourist destinations in Africa, attracting visitors from all over the world.[5]

President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy and reopened the Victoria Falls rainforest on 6 August 2020, after 109 days of closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking in Victoria Falls President Mnangagwa said, “The tourism growth strategy is anchored on vision 2030 and tourism sector has an important role to play alongside mining, agriculture, and manufacturing”.

The tourism sector was offered a ZW$500 million bailout as part of efforts to cushion the sector from COVID-19. The government exempted the sector from value added tax (VAT) in respect of local tourists.[6]

Tourism Recovery Plan

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s Acting Chief Executive Mr Givemore Chidzidzi has outlined strategic issues essential in post-Covid-19 tourism recovery drive. Presenting the Destination Zimbabwe Tourism Recovery draft Plan themed: “Supporting jobs, serving the national economy” at a workshop in Harare, Mr Chidzidzi said the plan outlines measures to be undertaken by Government, the tourism industry and stakeholders to address the negative effects of the COVID-19 on the tourism sector.

“The decline in international arrivals in Africa was less than 10% whereas overseas markets had a decline of more than 10% with Asia and Europe both experiencing a 20% decline. Middle East however had an increase of 20%,” he said.

Mr Chidzidzi said domestic tourism currently contributes 30% to the total tourism receipts. Mr Chidzidzi, however, singled out domestic tourism as key in post-COVID-19 tourism recovery efforts.

The Tourism Recovery Plan seeks to among other things:

  • Provide relief packages to affected tourism businesses including small business within the tourism value chain.
  • Provide a soft landing for the tourism industry as they re-open their enterprises to the market.
  • Save and secure jobs from being lost in the tourism value chain.
  • Re-establish contact with the local, regional and international tourism market.
  • Reassure confidence in the marketplace and encourage visitors to travel to and within Zimbabwe thereby boosting tourist arrivals and tourism revenue.
  • Rollout campaigns informing the marketplace that Zimbabwe’s tourism business is back.[7]

References

  1. [1], Visit Britain, Accessed: 20 August, 2020
  2. 2.0 2.1 Oliver Kazunga, [2], The Chronicle, Published: 24 February, 2020, Accessed: 22 August, 2020 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "chronicle" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Tichafara Bepe, [3], The Sunday News, Published: 17 March, 2019, Accessed: 20 August, 2020
  4. Donald Nyarota, [4], allAfrica, Published: 25 November, 2019, Accessed: 20 August, 2020
  5. Linda Mujuru, [5], Global Press Journal, Published: 19 April, 2020, Accessed: 20 August, 2020
  6. Anyway Yotamu, [6], Spiked, Published: 7 August, 2020, Accessed: 20 August, 2020
  7. Jonathan Mbiriyamveka, [7], Gemnation, Published: 24 May, 2020, Accessed: 20 August, 2020