The number of business visitors increased from 33 273 in 2012 to 46 741. According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) 2013 first quarter tourism trends and statistics report, the ever increasing regional trade and commerce also contributes immensely to the growth of the sector.
“There was a general increase from markets within the Sadc region especially Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, and this is mostly attributable to regional trade and commerce within the region for instance South Africa contributes 58 percent of Zimbabwean imports while 13 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports go to South Africa alone,” read part of the report.
The report points out that the corporate world is not only playing a role in tourist arrivals but also through increasing occupancy levels in hotels and lodges especially by local businesspeople that hold conferences and meetings.
“Positive growth was also recorded in Harare, Mutare/Vumba, Nyanga, Midlands, Hwange and Kariba due to an increase in meetings, events and conferences in hotels in these regions mainly from the corporate world,” said the report.
Last year the failure to meet the set target of economic growth in the country had a direct negative effect on the potential of the tourism industry particularly the performance of the domestic market as economic growth is a catalyst for the growth of this niche market.
The report, however, noted that while Zimbabwe received a lot of arrivals in the region after South Africa, they are low spenders as the bulk of them are from Mainland Africa compared to a basket of high spenders from overseas who are attracted by Islands such as Mauritius.
Zimbabwe recorded a 17 percent increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2013 with all major markets registering increases. Tourist arrivals currently stood at 404 282 up from 346 299 in 2012.
“This growth is clearly a witness of the country’s improved destination image, resuming competitiveness in the region,” said the ZTA.
Tourism players have said the corporate world plays a very significant role in the growth and sustenance of the tourism sector and said for the past few years tourism in Zimbabwe has been largely sustained by the corporate world.
“The corporate world has actually been to a large extent the backbone of domestic tourism. During economic hardships when travel and holidaying were considered luxuries and people did not have any disposable income but for businesses it’s different, they have to continue to operate.
“If you look at the decade leading up to 2010 when the economy was in a crisis, our tourism sector was adversely affected,” an official in the sector said.