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Tourist arrivals surge

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Story by Memory Chamisa

The surge in tourist arrivals in the country in the past six months has demonstrated the attractiveness of destination Zimbabwe and boosted the sector, which is one of the major foreign currency earners.

The past six months have witnessed a surge in tourist arrivals in the country, with the country’s Tourism capital, Victoria Falls also attracting celebrities from sports personalities to influential businesspeople whose followers and business linkages are expected to play out in favour of Zimbabwe.

Soon after the visit by Aston Villa captain, John McGinn and his family last week, Victoria Falls also received Virgin Atlantic airline owner, Richard Branson in a development that has cast the tourism destination in a positive light.

A tourism player, Mr Ignatius Matungamire told the ZBC News, “The coming into Zimbabwe by the Virgin Atlantic boss is an endorsement of Zimbabwe as a tourism destination of choice. And it’s the start of good things to come in tourism. Since the opening of airspace and borders after the pandemic, the country has witnessed an increase in the number of arrivals. The trend will continue and pick pace as we head towards the festive season. The industry contributes significantly to the gross domestic product about 12 or 13 per cent there about.”

“The current trend being exhibited in the industry cements Zimbabwe as a safe tourist destination of choice. Victoria Falls has been the main attraction but focus needs to be put on other areas like Gonarezhou, Nyanga, and Manapools to mention but a few. This is the time for players to be visible digitally as people now just Google places online for bookings,” noted the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe’s Second Vice President, Ms Emmah Kativu.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Head of Corporate Affairs Mr Godfrey Koti is optimistic of good times ahead as the sector vigorously markets Brand Zimbabwe to the world.

“Zimbabwe is ranked 4th in world tourism. This shows that the country is a brand to be reckoned with, a place to visit. In the past months, we have seen celebrities like Chuck Norris, John McGinn, Steve Harvey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Micheal Douglas coming to the resort city and other places in the country. This shows the confidence people have in the country. Not only has this boosted bookings at various resorts, but it also propelled the other chains in the industry.”

Being Zimbabwe’s third largest sector after mining and agriculture, contributing about 13 per cent to the gross domestic product, the tourism sector is projecting a 30 per cent increase in international tourists this year.