Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Government’s engagement and re-engagement drive has resulted in a sharp increase in tourist arrivals, revenue generated and investments in the sector as the country continues to be a favourable destination under the New Dispensation.
During the first quarter of the year, the tourism sector registered 352 719 arrivals up from 164 064 in the same period last year.
The surge was a 115 percent increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2021.
Tourism receipts also increased by 121 percent this year to $337,5 million compared to last year’s $152,8 million.
Addressing tourism executives attending a World Tourism Symposium in Gweru recently, Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Barbra Rwodzi, said the tourism industry which was adversely affected by the global Covid -19 pandemic was on a rebound.
“The Government’s engagement and re-engagement drive has resulted in a sharp increase in tourist arrivals as the country continues to become a favourable destination under the New Dispensation. You will recall that the global Covid-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on tourism the world over. In fact, the tourism industry was the worst affected by the lockdowns,” she said.
The deputy minister said the industry was, however, on the recovery path with Zimbabwe recording a sharp increase in the number of tourist arrivals and receipts recorded in the first quarter of the year.
She said the country which is riding on the re-engagement drive under the New Dispensation recorded 115 percent increase in total tourist arrivals so far this year.
“The rebound of international inbound tourism and the general increase in domestic tourism activities also increased the performance of the sector.
“During the first quarter of the year, the tourism sector registered a 115 percent rise in tourist arrivals to 352,719, compared with the same period in 2021 where international arrivals received were 164 064,” said Deputy Minister Rwodzi.
She said tourism receipts also increased by 121 percent this year to $337,5 million compared to last year when receipts recorded were at $152,8 million.
“We also recorded a 97 percent increase in tourism investments which were registered this year with a total of $96,5 million having been pumped in tourism investment so far this year,” said Deputy Minister Rwodzi.
She said the tourism sector was also working on ways to adapt to global catastrophes such as Covid -19 pandemic.
“This year’s theme, ‘Rethinking Tourism’ is a clarion call for stakeholders to come up with ways to revive the sector post Covid-19 and also to prepare for any such pandemics in future,” she said.
Due to national lockdowns and travel restrictions countries world over imposed measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector has not been spared from the adverse effects of the virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic was first detected in China in December 2019 before spreading across the globe.
In 2020, the Government launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy to re-start the sector, whose contribution to the national economy has been heavily crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tourism industry is one of the three major economic mainstays after mining and agriculture that contribute significantly to the fiscus and Gross Domestic Product through foreign currency generation.