THE tourism sector will this year contribute only 2% towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), a figure which translates to $3,4 billion, statistics from the Zimbabwe Council fo
r Tourism (ZCT) have revealed.
GDP is the total sum of what a nation can produce. Ideally, travel and tourism should contribute 12% to GDP.
According to a ZCT presentation made by its president Shingi Munyeza during the recent Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries annual congress in Victoria Falls, arrivals from traditional source markets such as the United States, Australia and Britain have continued to decline.
Munyeza said arrivals from Asian markets last year increased, largely because of improved relations between Zimbabwe and that region.
In the presentation, Munyeza said arrivals from Asian markets increased by 40% from 29 075 to 40 791 last year.
This year the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has predicted that the country’s economy will contract by 5%.
Last year GDP slowed by -9% owing to government’s fiscal indiscipline, chaos in the land reform programme and poor policy planning.
Although the country is in its fifth year of economic recession, the International Monetary Fund says next year’s GDP will increase to 5%.
Over the past four years, tobacco production has declined by more than 72%. Maize production has also decreased by 72% while cotton slumped by 95%. The manufacturing sector declined by more than 35% during the same period.
Munyeza said between 1999 and last year the number of people indirectly employed in the tourism sector declined from 22 000 to 13 000. During the same period the number of people directly employed shrank from 11 000 to 8 000.
Since 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced a sharp decline in tourist arrivals because of political instability.
The situation was worsened by the imposition of travel warning restrictions by the US and some European countries against their nationals coming to Zimbabwe.
“When the tourism industry is not performing well, other services closely related to the industry such as airlines, car rental agencies and tour operators will find it difficult to prosper,” Munyeza said.