Oliver Kazunga, Acting Business Editor
VICTORIA Falls Rainforest continues to record an increase in the number of people visiting the tourist attraction as 357 552 people visited the world heritage site last year compared to 338 472 in 2018.
The latest figures from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Management Authority (Zimparks) reflect a 5,6 percentage increase.
Speaking by telephone from Harare yesterday, Zimparks public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo said although the number of visitors to the Rainforest continue to rise, they were concerned that local visitors’ figures were still low.
“Although the figures are on an upward trajectory, our concern is that few locals are visiting hence the need to encourage them to visit such heritage sites. At present not many locals are visiting the Rainforest as well as other sites,” he said.
Mr Farawo said the improvement in the number of visitors to the Victoria Falls Rainforest was largely due to aggressive marketing efforts by Zimparks as well as renewed confidence in Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
Mr Farawo said Zimparks was offering relatively lower rates to locals as part of efforts to promote domestic tourism.
Recently confusion gripped the travel and tourism industry following a BBC report purporting that the Victoria Falls was drying up.
The report sparked widespread debate as sceptical opinion leaders and some tour operators turned political and sought to manipulate the scenario in a bid to project a bad image of the country.
This was despite insights by climate change experts and explanations from tourism industry stakeholders whose businesses stand to be negatively affected by the biased reports.
The tourism sector is one of Zimbabwe’s major economic mainstays contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority said 2,6 million international tourist arrivals were recorded in 2018 compared to 2,4 million the previous year.
They spent US$1,05 billion in 2018 which was seven percent higher than US$917 million generated in 2017.
United Kingdom, United States of America, and South Africa are some of Zimbabwe’s major source markets. — @okazunga.