Tourism blueprint begins to bear fruit

By Tichaona Kurewa

THE National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy is bearing fruit with hotel occupancy rate now hovering above 50 percent from as low as nine percent at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched last year, the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (NTRGS) seeks to put the tourism sector back on track as it targets to become a US$five billion industry by 2025.

Tourism players told ZBC News that arrivals and hotel occupancy are picking up.

“Looking at accommodation in Binga, right now I can say it’s picking up compared to when we were still under the pandemic, we are not yet one hundred percent back but, but we are now at 50 percent occupancy, we continue to hope for the best,” said a tourism player.

“Basically we are receiving good arrivals, there is that therapy that keeps us hoping for the best. The grade of movement for now is much appreciated and is helping us hope for the future,” said another.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Wengai Nhau concurred saying there is marked improvement in the major resorts.

Given the amount of activity we have seen in major tourist areas, particularly Victoria Falls and other surrounding areas, there is marked improvement from the same period last year. There has been a great improvement as far as recovery is concerned. So what we can say as an industry is we have no doubt that the recovery efforts that are being put by the government on one end and the private sector are beginning to yield fruits. So all we can say is that we are on the right path to recovery,” he said.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Operating Officer, Mr Givemore Chidzidzi gave an overview of the sector post COVID-19.

We are now beginning to see the graph going upwards in terms of visitor arrivals, in terms of foreign currency earnings, even in terms of hotel occupancy rates. If you are to look at this time last year, hotels were empty but right now we are hovering around thirty to thirty six percent especially here in Victoria Falls, we have started seeing times when some hotels are actually fully booked which is a very good sign of recovery,” he said.

The tourism industry is one of the country’s major foreign currency earners and foremost employers especially in resort areas like the Eastern Highlands, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Hwange.

A growth trajectory has been witnessed in the sector during the first quarter of the year where an increase of 93 percent in tourist arrivals was registered compared to the same period in 2021.