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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Africa recovers 92% of pre-Covid visitors in seven months

Story by Memory Chamisa

UNITED Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has confirmed the positive turnaround in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, with the latest world tourism barometer revealing that the country is increasingly becoming the most sought-after tourist destination.

According to the UNWTO Barometer Report released this Tuesday, Africa, Middle East, and Europe lead the global sector’s rebound as tourism continues to recover from its worst crises in history because of Covid-19.

Arrival numbers have reached 84% of pre-pandemic levels between January and July this year.

The sector is also looking forward to the September to December holiday season rush.

Zimbabwe has had a fair share of the cake as arrivals surged this year, with tourism receipts increasing from US$340 million last year to US$400 million as of the past eight months.

For tourism players, the figures have been spurred by sporting events and global conferences the country has hosted this year.

“Sports tourism has been one of the enablers of a good trend in the sector. Cricket boosted the numbers on bookings the past month and conferences that have been held in the resort city of Victoria Falls. Not only has this created employment but several hotels, boutiques and lodges have been opened too. The export earnings have also gone up,” said the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe’s 2nd vice president, Ms. Emmah Kativu.

A player in the tourism sector, Mr. Ignatius Matungamire said, “The sector has surpassed the projections that were made previously showing that things have gone back to normal. There has been an appetite for travel globally and Africa recording 92% is significant. The sector has many long-hanging fruits that have also received a major boost like transport, safaris and Zimbabwe has done well. Having to host major events that attract visitors from across the globe has seen 100% in bookings with BnBs included.”

The tourism sector which contributes 12% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product has also witnessed increased air connectivity, with the expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expected to attract more tourists.

Zimbabwe is targeting a five billion tourism economy by the year 2025.

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