The total spending by visitors to Zimbabwe was over $800 million in the period July 2015 to June 2016, with the bulk of them coming to visit friends and relatives, a new report has shown. Each visitor was spending an average of $385 per stay and 2 106 975 people visited the country during the period, according to the Zimbabwe Visitor Exit Survey (VES) Report 2015/16.
It showed that 31,1% of visitors to Zimbabwe were coming to visit friends and relatives, while 18,2% were here for holiday leisure.The VES Report 2015/16 was a project undertaken by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the African Development Bank and the Tourism ministry to ascertain the level of tourism in the country and identify areas of improvement. It covered the period July 2015 to June this year.
“33% of visitors either stayed with friends or relatives. Commercial accommodation such as hotels, lodges, chalets and camps accounted for 22% of all the accommodation used by the visitors,” the report said.
As such, an overall of 42% of visitors did not utilise any commercial accommodation, which included excursionists, visitors who slept in coaches/buses, trucks, cars and churches, thus cutting costs. Usually when travelling, accommodation is the biggest cost incurred.
The VES Report 2015/16 found that 83,7% of visitors spent $500 or less, while 41,8% spent $50 or less during their stay.
“The highest expenditure was on food and beverages accounting for 28%, followed by accommodation at 18%. Visitors from Oceania region were the highest spenders at $1 354, followed by those from Europe with an average expenditure of $909. The least spenders were visitors from Africa, with an average expenditure of $310,” the report said.
Another reason behind the low expenditure was that as the major source market of visitors was the African region with 80,7%, a large proportion of them did not utilise any commercial accommodation.
Visitors from overseas markets were found to utilise commercial accommodation, with the exception of United Kingdom, with 52,1% staying with friends and relatives.
“Although the proportion of visitors from African countries was the highest (80,7%) their average length of stay was the lowest, 7,6 nights. Visitors from Zambia (37,4%), South Africa (16,3%), Malawi (29,3%) and Botswana (3,8%) did not spend any money in Zimbabwe which agrees with findings that majority of visitors merely come to sightsee the country while spending money in neighbouring countries,” the report said
Visitors from the same countries spent between $1 and $50, while in the overseas countries, the United States had more visitors with low expenditure.
Harare, with 29,1% visitors, edged out Victoria Falls (27,9%) and Bulawayo (22,6%), as the most visited destination in the country. The report found that 80,6% of visitors used cash during their stay, while 5,8% used plastic money. For holiday/leisure visitors, the average expenditure per person per trip was $681. However, the highest average expenditure was by visitors from South Africa at $1 081 followed by those from Denmark ($936), the United Kingdom ($857), Australia ($848) and the United States ($800).
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA