Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
The occupancy rate for most major hotels in Victoria Falls is about 80 percent during this Easter holiday compared to 70 percent last year.
The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) however said occupancy by local visitors had fallen to 15 percent from 22 percent last year.
The fall in local visitors has been attributed to macro-economic challenges that include access to cash.
The Government, through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has been pushing for the “Know Your Zimbabwe” campaign, which seeks to promote domestic tourism.
HAZ and Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) said they hoped more local travellers will visit the resort town taking advantage of the new look Victoria Falls International Airport.
HAZ Victoria Falls chapter chairman Mr Chris Svovah said:
“The occupancy rate for most major hotels has gone up from 70 percent in 2016 to 80 percent this year for the Easter period. This is a result of new look airport, which has seen more airlines flying directly to Victoria Falls.
“This trajectory should continue and we expect Kenya Airways from Nairobi and Airlink from Cape Town, South Africa to join other airlines that are flying directly to Victoria Falls,” said Mr Svovah.
He said another reason for renewed interest in visiting Victoria Falls was the re-launched KAZA Univisa, which facilitates entry to tourists from 65 countries using a single facility.
Mr Svovah however said the challenge was to promote domestic tourism which he said has traditionally been the backbone of the tourism sector.
He urged tourism players to come up with attractive promotional packages to attract locals to visit resort areas through the ‘Know Your Zimbabwe” campaign.
EATSO president Mr Clement Mukwasi said the introduction of an evening flight by fastjet would attract more locals into Victoria Falls.
“We are confident the introduction of evening flights from Harare will be a game changer because that’s something that domestic tourists have always been crying for. The new evening flight will come in handy for visitors from Harare who constitute the majority of domestic fly-in tourists to Victoria Falls while those from Bulawayo drive because distance is shorter,” he said.
Mr Mukwasi said the majority of domestic tourists this Easter are Zimbabweans with relatives based in the Diaspora and also church people coming for conferences.
He called upon public transporters to embrace plastic money to enable locals to travel.