Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Monday, 29 August 2016

Victoria Falls Tour Operators enjoy High Season Boom

Operators in Victoria Falls have seen an increase in visitors, with all units recording brisk business at the start of the high season, which is expected to extend to December.
In separate interviews, operators revealed that the traditional peak period in the sector was an opportunity to break even, with groups flocking into Victoria Falls, Kasane and Livingtone – dubbed the golden triangle market and which is one of the most popular in the tourism world.
Shearwater Adventures Group Public Relations Manager, Clement Mukwasi, said operators were stretched to capacity.
“This season has seen a lot of groups coming into the destination.” He added that all units were very busy and said most of the visitors were from Europe, Canada and the US. “We are riding on good times, business has been at an all-time low and we are happy to recover from that period.”
Likewise, Wenhau Safaris and Tours’ Wengayi Nhau said tourism business had been very low and has since started recovering.
However, Nhau said the recovery was not enough to balance out the dip earlier this year. “It is normal for numbers to increase during this period, which is traditionally the high season. In February and March, people were operating far below breakeven point and, although the situation is better now, if you average these figures, we are still below the profit level.”
Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe President, GeorgeManyumwa, revealed that occupancies were growing from the 45% that the sector had been averaging to about 52%, with prospects of achieving 58% due to the high-season trend.
“We are expecting this period to give us 58% in terms of occupancies, which is a commendable figure. Things have definitely started improving and the growth is visible in the sector. We expect the second half of the year to yield positive results,” said Manyumwa.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Zim losing tourism business over pricing

THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has urged tourism operators to review prices and put in place a competitive pricing model after research showed that the country is losing business to regional competitors and is being considered as an add-on to other destinations.
Assessing travel trends through the country’s ports of entry, the ZTA noted that many foreign tourists visiting the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s flagship tourism resort, were coming through Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts for single night stays and day trips, largely showing that they were avoiding staying in Zimbabwe.
The ZTA noted that prices of goods and services were generally cheaper in Zambia and Botswana than Zimbabwe, which could be one of the pull factors for international visitors.
“The visits to Zimbabwe were mostly just to view the Victoria Falls from the best vantage point, which is on the Zimbabwean side, as well as to partake in high adrenalin activities on the Victoria Falls Bridge. Observations have also revealed a pattern where tourists are booking in Livingstone, then cross over to Zimbabwe for day trips only to return to Zambia.
“This means that Zimbabwe is being considered as an add-on destination, which raises concerns of why there seems to be a bigger preference for Zambia which offers a similar tourism product to Zimbabwe,” said the ZTA, adding that this calls for the country to put in place a competitive pricing model in order to compete effectively with regional competitors in terms of attracting overseas tourists as a main destination and increasing the length of stay and total spend by tourists.
Statistics from ZTA showed that the country received about 11 898 arrivals from the United States of America in the first two months of the year but the American tourists entered Zimbabwe from Zambia while a significant number entered Zimbabwe from Botswana.
The ZTA said the trend continued with Japanese tourists as entries via Victoria Falls Barrier showed that the tourists were coming from Zambia, adding further to the impression created by the USA market, that Zimbabwe is an add-on destination from both Botswana and Zambia.
“This once again brings pricing issues to the fore in explaining this preference and this calls for Zimbabwe to review prices all round,” said the ZTA.
The tourism body said arrival trends in the region were worrisome for Zimbabwe as they showed massive movement of tourists entering from neighbouring Botswana and Zambia and passing through Zimbabwe.
“It is well known that Zimbabwe presents the best viewing side of Victoria Falls, hence urgent interventions are needed to ensure a more even distribution of tourist arrivals with Zimbabwe’s two neighbours and competitors.”
However, operators in the country said the only pricing model that works is market forces.
Africa Albida Tourism chief executive officer Mr Ross Kennedy said there were many factors at play in the choice by tourists before they visit including ease and cost of access, visa policy and costs as well as experiences and border reception.
“The travelling public will vote with their feet and disposable income according to quality, service, experience and hospitality.
The average length of stay in our various accommodation units is in fact 2,5 nights in Victoria Falls and even more in the self catering lodges, towards four nights. When we opened more than 20 years ago the average length of stay in Victoria Falls was just overnight,” said Mr Kennedy.
He said the majority of arrivals were coming into the country through Victoria Falls along with Livingstone Airport due to cheaper air fares.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Zim Hotel occupancy drops 2 percent

Zimbabwe’s average hotel room occupancy rate for the first quarter of 2016 was down at 36 percent from 38 percent recorded during the same period last year. According to the first quarter report released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority yesterday, Harare had the highest average room occupancy rate of 53 percent followed by Victoria Falls, Midlands, Mutare/Vumba and Nyanga.The 53 percent for Harare was achieved through promotions on room rates offered by major hotel groups otherwise the occupancies could have been lower.

“These promotions resulted in increased utilisation of accommodation facilities by domestic tourists in Harare more than in other regions. Even with such promotions, Harare experienced a one percent decline in the first Quarter of 2016 compared the same period in 2015,” said ZTA.

“This was attributed to the current harsh economic climate which has resulted in government, private sector and NGO’s implementing austerity measures to reduce operating costs.”

Victoria Falls had the second highest room occupancy rate but experienced a two percentage points decline in the first quarter of 2016. This negative growth was a result of reduced utilisation of accommodation by foreign tourists (the resort town’s occupancy is usually dominated by foreigners).
Compared to other regions Beitbridge recorded four percentage points up from the figure recorded during the same period in 2015.

This was as a result of reduced capacity through the closure of Holiday Inn Express hotel which was the second largest hotel after Beitbridge Rainbow Hotel, contributing 24 percent of hotel rooms in Beitbridge.

This closure resulted in hotel rooms available decreasing, causing the occupancy percentage to increase.

Mutare/Vumba and Masvingo recorded the worst growth of -7 percent each compared to the rest of the regions during the period under review.

This negative growth was attributed to the harsh economic environment prevailing in the country that has adversely affected domestic tourism which is the tourism backbone of these two regions.
On arrivals, South Africa dominated through all of Zimbabwe’s Airports except Victoria Falls, which was dominated by the United States.

US dominated air entry into Victoria Falls and was in the top five at all Airports except Charles Prince while Britain and Ireland made the top five at Harare and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airports.

“This is further proof of the changing status of UK and Ireland as the leading overseas market for Zimbabwe.”

China was third in arrivals via Harare International Airport (3 405) but recorded low figures via other airports suggesting that Chinese tourists were mainly visiting Zimbabwe on business.
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg arrivals were second dominant via Harare International Airport.

Zimbabwe received totals of 6 774 and 5 124 United States arrivals in January and February respectively through all ports, adding up to 11898 USA arrivals over the two month period, which amounted to 24 percent of the total USA outbound to Africa, over the 2 months period.
“However, of concern is the fact that most of these American tourists entered Zimbabwe from Zambia while a significant number entered Zimbabwe from Botswana.

“Research has shown that prices of goods and services are generally cheaper in Zambia than in Zimbabwe, which could be one of the pull factors for the Americans,” said ZTA.

The Tourism Authority said the visits to Zimbabwe were mostly just to view the Victoria Falls from the best vantage point, which is on the Zimbabwe side, as well as to partake in high adrenalin activities on the Victoria Falls Bridge.

“Observations have also revealed a pattern where tourists are booking in Livingstone, then cross over to Zim for day trips (although these are not included in the compilation of tourist arrival statistics), only to return to Zambia.”

This means that Zimbabwe is being considered as an add-on destination, which raises concerns of why there seems to be a bigger preference for Zambia which offers a similar tourism product to Zimbabwe.

“Once again this calls for Zimbabwe to review prices all round and put in place a competitive pricing model in order to compete effectively with regional competitors in terms attracting overseas tourist as a main destination and increasing the length of stay and total spend by tourists,” said ZTA.

ZTA said given the iconic status of Victoria Falls, arrival trends into the region are quite worrisome in as far as they show massive movement of tourists entering from neighbouring Botswana and Zambia and passing through Zimbabwe.

It is well known that Zimbabwe presents the best viewing side of Victoria Falls, hence urgent interventions are needed to ensure a more even distribution of tourist arrivals with Zimbabwe’s two neighbours and competitors.

Though there was an increase in tourist arrivals into the country, not all of them end up in hotels, many of them especially those from Mainland Africa resort to very cheap sources of accommodation in lodges as well as friends and relatives.

Observations have also shown that many foreign tourists visiting the Victoria Falls are entering through Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts for single night stays and day trips, largely showing that they are avoiding staying in Zimbabwe.

This means Zimbabwe is a secondary destination to them. If this phenomenon increases ZTA said it will further affect the performance of the sector as Victoria Falls is the hub of foreign tourism. The Tourism Authority said this requires implementation of robust marketing programmes by Zimbabwe in key source markets.

Unfortunately this is going to be very difficult as the authority gets over 90 percent of its funding from tourism levy collected by operators whose businesses are shrinking.

Source: Zim Hotel occupancy drops 2 percent (02/08/16)

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Elephant kills tourist in Hwange

A local tourist, Stephene Coetzee was trampled to death yesterday by a suspected female elephant in Hwange National Park.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Spokesperson, Caroline Washayamoyo said Coetzee was in company of his brother, Christian and a female friend when the accident happened.

Washayamoyo said the trio, all from Bulawayo, entered Hwange National Park through Sinamatela and had intended to exit through the main camp gate.

It is alleged that six kilometres after Guvalala platform, the trio came across a herd of elephants and the now deceased is alleged to have disembarked from the vehicle to take pictures unbeknown to him that there was yet another elephant which was yet to cross the road.

Washayamoyo added that it is at this point that the female elephant appeared from the blind side attacking and killing Stephen on the spot.

A report was quickly made to the police in Dete and the deceased's body has been taken to Hwange Colliery mortuary for a post mortem.

Elephant kills tourist in Hwange (07/08/16)

One man's vision for managing wildlife conflict

LIVINGSTONE, Zambia – Sandy Simpson manoeuvres his Land Rover in the African bush like a stock car on a short track.
The businessman born in Kenya spent his career driving fast miles across Europe to rush antiques to eager owners until he retired in 2007.
Then, Simpson's life took a dramatic turn, and the driving skills might be the only ones that translate directly to his new occupation with elephants and lions.
Back in Africa, this man with no biology degree or experience or formal training in the great outdoors is working in human-wildlife conflict management.
Indeed, in retirement Simpson's been in a race to protect some of the continent's most cherished and at-risk species: buffalo, impala, elephants, lions and more.
"I don't think it's up to Zambia or Botswana or Kenya to protect their (wildlife)," Simpson said. "To me, it's our world heritage."
To hear wildlife authorities in Zambia and residents of Livingstone tell it, the maverick newcomer is without a doubt helping to gain ground for wildlife in Africa. In and around Livingstone, the tourism capital of the country and one landing spot to visit Victoria Falls, he's decreasing the battles between people and elephants in particular.
In recent years, people living in villages outside Livingstone proper have gone hungry because elephants trampled their crops and ate their harvests. Since Simpson came to town, many have been growing vegetables again.
"Sandy's project is one we are hoping can bring back the love for the elephant," said Jackson Katampi, acting senior warden for the Zambia Wildlife Authority. The agency is now called the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, but locals continue to refer to it as ZAWA.
The approach Simpson uses is simple and affordable, and he hopes the success in Livingstone – as well as other parts of the country – might lead to the creation of a center of excellence in conservation here, a place that can demonstrate a model and help spread it to other conflict areas.
***
Sandy Simpson is ubiquitous around this city of some 140,000, cruising in one of his Land Rovers, stopping to greet locals by name and ask about elephant sightings.
Two things spurred his work. Around 2000, he said, when he was still working in antiques, Simpson read a story in National Geographic that said some 90 percent of wildlife in Africa had declined in 30 years. Simpson believed the decrease amounted to more of a decimation when taking the long view.
"What happened in the 170 years before that?" Simpson said.
In all, he said, just 1.5 percent of the elephant population remains compared to the numbers 200 years ago.
After he retired in Paris, the businessman headed back to Kenya, where he was born, to immerse himself in conservation, and there experienced a second catalyst to commit his life to animals.
In Nairobi National Park, a small area outside the capital city, the lion population had multiplied far beyond the capacity of the land. Older males chased out sub-adults because the park didn’t have enough territory for them all, and lions came into town and onto ranch land, Simpson said.
“The wildlife is seen as a pest,” Simpson said. “It’s disrupting for the Africans. If they have livestock and there’s lions around, they don’t sleep at night. They’re looking after their herds.”
Residents saw the animals as problematic. A wildlife professional adopted many of them over the years simply to try to keep them alive, including one that had killed sheep and goats, Simpson said.
Simpson befriended the lion keeper, and in an unexpected turn, ended up caring for the lions himself in 2011.
“I didn’t know anything about lions,” Simpson said. “I was scared out of my skin. What happens if they get sick? What the hell do I do?
“But it was a fantastic experience. Absolutely unbelievable experience. Feeding them every day, just being with them every day, getting to know them, know the characters. I tell you, it makes me shake, really.”
The experience ended badly, though.
Earlier, one of the lions had killed more than 120 sheep and goats, and Simpson's friend knew the slaying had put a target on the animal's back, he said. As a result, he said, his friend adopted it and kept it in an enclosure to try to protect it.
In the end, though, Simpson couldn't protect the lions from being punished for the mass killing.
He repeatedly rebuffed requests to share the details of their demise: "Bottle of whiskey." The day one lion died, though, Simpson said he pledged the rest of his life to resolving human-wildlife conflict.
“Everything happens for a reason. I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today,” he said.
***
In Kenya, Simpson and his business partner, Michael Mbithi, also stumbled upon an unlikely key that would fix one of the rubs between people and animals.
There, they came across a Masai boy who had rigged flashing lights to keep lions away from livestock. The simple solution worked, and in his research, Simpson found a company in Bozeman – Nite Guard – with a similar system. Nite Guard produces a flashing light system and a flickering holographic tape that animals see as a threat.  
Simpson started experimenting. Eventually, he tried the shimmering ribbon to repel elephants. He strung strips of it from wire enclosing a protected area. The system worked.
When wildlife authorities in Zambia learned about Simpson's work, they invited him to look at the elephant problem in Livingstone.
Livingstone is adjacent to Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, an expanse of grassland savanna bordered by the Zambezi River and just a stone's throw from the city center. Elephants live in the park, along with giraffe, baboons, zebras and the guarded rhinos.
Here, the elephants respect park borders as well as grizzly in Montana might honor "no trespassing" signs on a fence.
"Just where the park ends is somebody's yard, somebody's house," said Katampi, acting senior warden for ZAWA.
Some people in the city don't run into problems with elephants at all, he said, but others live in fear of being crushed by elephants at night and don't have food because the animals devour their vegetables.
"When these animals destroy crops, it means the community is starving," Katampi said.
Crime goes up as a result, he said, as does poaching.
ZAWA has advised Simpson to retain the elephants' natural corridors, and together, the agency and Simpson are targeting villages adjacent to the park. So far, they've protected an estimated 40 percent of the population with the simple fences and ribbon, a feat that both feeds the people and saves the elephants.
"If we can stop them from destroying their crops, then they can appreciate them," Katampi said.
Simpson is the founder and head of Green Rural African Development, and he'd made his way to Zambia in 2012 to respond to ZAWA's request to look at the elephant problem and also be near family.
"I've done this because it's a question of now or never," Simpson said. "And unless a solution is found to the human-wildlife conflict, which is considered by some very good experts as the largest reason for the demise of African wildlife, it's finished."
***
So far, Simpson has paid for most of the equipment and installation himself, he said. The cost amounts to an estimated $1,000 for the first kilometer, and not much more for the first 10 kilometers in all, and he's eager to see more financial support for the project.
He mounts solar units at the homes of villagers, and the power electrifies the fence as a way to startle elephants and prevent vandalism. It also ends up being a power source for a family that – until the unit was installed – didn't have light at night.
"Suddenly, they have lights for the first time ever. So the kids can actually, you know, do their homework at night,"Simpson said.
And, of course, the people are safer than they used to be, and they can grow and sell food.
"If people are protected here, and they don't care about the elephants going around them, and therefore, the poaching will probably reduce because they don't feel the need to kill them," Simpson said.
Last month, Simpson was among a group of experts in Zambia who met with assistant professors from the University of Montana on a visit to Livingstone.
UM professor Wayne Freimund established the relationship with conservationists in Africa nearly 20 years ago. Simpson is one of several professionals there who are eager to strengthen the tie to their counterparts in the U.S. and share resources across the globe.
He knows the holographic tape works, but he'd like a researcher from UM, possibly a graduate student, to examine the reason the animals are repelled by the tactic. He also wants to install more fencing.
"We can do a kilometer a day, easy," Simpson said.
***
When Simpson rolls to a stop on his drives around town to talk with locals, they often thank him, "Mr. Sandy."
Privately, they worry he'll take off and leave them to manage wildlife on their own once again, a concern that may be as much about his funding of the fences. But Simpson said he is settling in for the long haul. He wants to see the successes with elephants there replicated elsewhere.
"I'll be based here for the rest of my life," he said. "I won't necessarily stay here, but Livingstone is so geographically perfect for the neighboring countries. ... It could serve perfectly as a center of excellence in human-wildlife conflict mitigation."

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Economic crisis hits tourism sector

ZIMBABWE’S punitive tax regime, coupled with de-industrialisation that has forced the economy to rely on imports and devaluation of regional currencies against the United States dollar, have rendered the country an expensive and uncompetitive tourist destination, latest figures show.
By Taurai Mangudhla
Despite various attempts by the country’s leading hospitality groups to lure clients through African and Rainbow Tourism Group promotions and discounts that even topped 69%, latest Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) figures for the first quarter of 2016 show national hotel room occupancy has slid by two percentage points in the period under review, with people preferring cheaper lodges or to sleep across the borders.
The national average hotel room occupancy rate, ZTA said, decreased from 38% in the period January to March 2015 to 36% during the same period in 2016.
RTG’s highest discount was cost reduction on its New Ambassador Hotel’s double rooms by 56%, while the Cresta Group gave a 63% discount on its Cresta Oasis double rooms. Meikles Hotel was rather modest at a peak discount of 35%, while African Sun gave a 70% discount on its Crown Plaza rooms for bookings of at least three nights.
“These promotions resulted in increased utilisation of accommodation facilities by domestic tourists in Harare more than in other regions. Even with such promotions, Harare experienced a 1 % decline in the first Quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015,” read the report.
“This was attributed to the current harsh economic climate which has resulted in government, private sector and NGOs implementing austerity measures to reduce operating costs. For example, government banned the Harare municipality from holding meetings in hotels as a cost-cutting measure.”
This comes as Zimbabwe’s Tourism minister Walter Mzembi is having a tough time convincing government to scrap a 15% tax on accommodation for foreign visitors, which he says makes the country a more expensive and less competitive tourism destination.
The country’s political situation characterised by spontaneous protests has worsened the problem and is mainly responsible for Zimbabwe’s poor ranking in the 2015 World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitive Report. The travel and tourism report ranked Zimbabwe in May among the worst tourism destinations in the world at number 115 out of 141 countries.
Furthermore, an impractical pricing system with high hotel and transport rates is also a setback to Zimbabwe’s tourism at a time the sector battles to deal with other challenges such as heavy police presence on the highways and rampant corruption.
In Africa, Zimbabwe ranks 15th behind South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius and Kenya which are ranked first, second, third and fourth respectively.
The ranking is based on what is called the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index which has four sub-indexes.
The first sub-index is the enabling environment which captures the general settings — business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, human resources and labour market as well as ICT readiness — necessary for operating in a country.
According to the report, although there was an increase in tourist arrivals into the country — from 387 557 recorded in the first quarter of 2015 to 450 572 during the same period in 2016, representing a 16% growth from all source regions except for Oceania — not all of the arrivals ended up in hotel occupancies.
The regulator said a sizeable number of tourists, especially those from mainland Africa, resort to very cheap sources of accommodation in lodges as well as friends and relatives.
“That’s why the disparity in terms of occupancies vis-a-vis tourist arrivals. Observations have also shown that many foreign tourists visiting the Victoria Falls are entering through Kazungula and Victoria Falls border posts for single night stays and day trips, largely showing that they are avoiding to stay in Zimbabwe,” said ZTA. “It means Zimbabwe is a secondary destination to them. If this phenomenon increases, it will further affect the performance of the sector as Victoria Falls is the hub of foreign tourism.”
To swing the pendulum, robust marketing programmes by Zimbabwe in key source markets are required. Unfortunately, ZTA said, this is going to be very difficult as the authority gets over 90% of its funding from tourism levy collected by operators whose businesses are shrinking.
“Also with the deepening harsh economic environment in the country, the contribution of the domestic market is likely to decrease drastically. In turn, this is going to further affect the ability of hotels to maintain good standards in their facilities as domestic market contributes significantly to their businesses (averaging 35%),” ZTA said.
In terms of regions, Victoria Falls had the second highest room occupancy rate but experienced a two percentage points decline in the first quarter of 2016. This negative growth was a result of reduced utilisation of accommodation by foreign tourists (the resort town’s occupancy is usually dominated by foreigners) as can be seen from the clientele mix
Compared to other regions, Beitbridge recorded four percentage points up from the figure recorded during the same period in 2015. This was as a result of reduced capacity through the closure of Holiday Inn Express hotel, which was the second largest hotel after Beitbridge Rainbow Hotel, contributing 24% of hotel rooms in Beitbridge. This closure resulted in hotel rooms available decreasing, causing the occupancy percentage to increase.
Mutare/Vumba and Masvingo recorded the worst growth of -7% each compared to the rest of the regions. This negative growth was attributed to the harsh economic environment prevailing in the country that has adversely affected domestic tourism, which is the tourism backbone of these two regions.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

VF Q1 tourist arrivals up 16pc

ZIMBABWE has recorded a 16 percent rise in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of the year to 450 572 after registering 387 557 during the same period last year, statistics from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) show.

ZTA indicated that all the country’s major source markets reported growth in arrivals, except the Oceania region. The tourism authority said most African source markets saw arrivals rising except for South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

“Arrivals from mainland Africa increased 11 percent to 380 790 from 343 644 in 2015. Most African countries with the exception of South Africa, Zambia, DRC and Tanzania recorded increases during the quarter. South Africa and DRC fell marginally by two percent and four percent respectively,” said ZTA. Zambia and Tanzania fell substantially by 16 percent and 20 percent respectively.

“European arrivals into Zimbabwe rose by 28 percent to 27 433 from 21 496 in 2015. Major European countries (Benelux, France, Germany, Spain, Austria) recorded increases except for Britain and Ireland that fell by 10 percent. The fringe European markets also registered decreases, Portugal 30 percent, Switzerland 21 percent, Nordic countries 14 percent and Italy 10 percent.

ZTA indicated that tourist arrivals from the Americas increased by 120 percent during the period under review, which had 22 620 compared to 10 294 arrivals in 2014. This growth was buoyed by Zimbabwe’s biggest market in the Americas region. Tourists from the United States rose by a massive 117 percent to 19 475 in 2016 compared to 8 972 in 2015.

ZTA also indicated that arrivals from Asia increased by 157 percent to 14 004 in 2016 from 5 441 in 2015. “The Asian region followed the growth pattern of the Americas, wherein all major markets grew significantly, except for Pakistan which fell by 53 percent,” said the tourism authority.

Source: Q1 tourist arrivals up 16pc (03/08/16)

Chinese tourists to Zimbabwe rise sharply in first quarter of 2016

HARARE — Chinese tourists into Zimbabwe grew 107 percent to 4,043 in the first quarter of 2016, up from 1,952 during the same period last year driven mainly by Chinese coming for business, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says.
According to the ZTA report, China was Zimbabwe’s second largest tourist source market in Asia during the period after Japan which led by 4,303 visitors. South Korea came third with 3,422 visitors.
In total, the country received 450,572 overseas visitors in the first quarter, a 16 percent growth from 387,557 recorded during the same period last year.
However, the tourism body decried the increasing number of overseas tourists that are not coming to Zimbabwe directly but are entering from neighboring countries such as Zambia and Botswana.
It said the visits to Zimbabwe were mostly just to view the Victoria Falls from the best vantage point, which is on the Zimbabwe side, with observations having revealed a pattern where tourists book in Livingstone, Zambia and then cross over to Zimbabwe for day trips.
Zimbabwe was now being considered as an add-on destination by most overseas visitors, the ZTA said, adding if the trend continued, it would further affect the performance of the tourism sector.
“It is well known that Zimbabwe presents the best viewing side of Victoria Falls, hence urgent interventions are needed to ensure a more even distribution of tourist arrivals with Zimbabwe’s two neighbors and competitors,” the ZTA said.
It urged Zimbabwe to review prices all round and put in place a competitive pricing model in order to compete effectively with regional competitors in attracting overseas tourists.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls located along the Zambezi River between the borders of Zimbabwe and Zambia, is Zimbabwe’s flagship tourist attraction.