By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Tourism players say tourist arrivals have been depressed in the first half of the year due to negative perceptions about the country.
Although the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) insists that tourist arrivals are on the increase, the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) said leisure, conservation and hunting had borne the brunt of low tourist arrivals.
“The movement of tourists in one sector affects the other and that is why when looking at the two first quarters of 2019, we have seen that the numbers of tourists coming into the country has been declining,” EATSO president Clement Mukwasi said.
“It has diminished in a big way compared to the previous year.
“The leisure sector suffered a knock of around 7,5% compared to last year and we attribute the decline to the South African elections and the general global recession.”
He said the decline was also due to poor publicity Zimbabwe was getting abroad.
Mukwasi said sport and trophy hunting was also depressed due to lack of support from regular markets.
“Hunting has been seriously affected by the lack of support from the countries that are supposed to receive hunting trophies and for the past three years, the
sector has recorded massive cancellations of bookings,” he said.
“The drop is almost 10% compared to the previous years, but you have to know that hunting is usually done by people with money.
“They are millionaires and billionaires of the world and those constitute very little of the population in comparison to leisure.”
Mukwasi said Zimbabwe’s hunting industry was not being well marketed, hence the failure to attract big trophy hunters.
Farai Chimba, the Hotel Association of Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland chapter chairperson, said players in the tourism sector were hoping that their fortunes would
start changing this month.
“We have had a very slow season and our hotel occupancy has been down since beginning of the year,” he said.
“We hope that we are going to pick from this month going forward, but I cannot give you statistics for now as we are still doing mid-year consolidations with
the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the results will be out after month end.”
However, ZTA spokesperson Godfrey Koti insisted that Zimbabwe’s tourism industry was enjoying growth.
“We are a country that is in a lot of growth, there has not been a decline,” he said. “We are actually 1% up from where we were last year. We have not recorded
Zimbabwe had 2,5 million local and foreign tourists last year. Koti said the country expected to get three million tourists this year.