Zimbabwe tourism makes a comeback

Jan 4, 2011

During Zimbabwe's past 'lost decade' of political and economic turmoil tourism suffered as much as any other economic sphere. It might have suffered even more than other parts of the economy, being even more sensitive to the massive bad global publicity Zimbabwe has received in recent years. Tourists might have never been in any danger during that time, but the damage in the country's reputation was enough to scare off many people, even when ridiculous levels of local currency hyperinflation for a while made visiting it with hard currency an exceptionally good value for those brave souls who were willing to venture there then. Widely publicized shots of long fuel queues and empty supermarket shelves would not have helped and tourist arrivals plunged.

Political uncertainties remain but Zimbabwe is now on a firm recovery path.
The country's traditionally strong tourism industry is beginning to respond, as the January 02 New Zimbabwe website article Tourists now prefer Zim to Zambia shows:  

ZIMBABWE is now edging Zambia in the battle for visitors to the prime resort of Victoria Falls which lies on the border between the two countries.

The tourism chief in the Zambian border town of Livingstone, Kingsley Lilamono, recently told a local newspaper that an increasing number of tourists were now choosing to stay on the Zimbabwean side of the border.

“The tourist arrivals at the Livingstone International Airport do not correspond with the numbers in the hotels and lodges because most of the tourists proceed to Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.

The development marks a welcome change of fortunes for Zimbabwe which saw visitor numbers collapse over the last decade as tourists were put-off by the country’s political and economic problems.

The Victoria Falls continued to attract business but tourists only came as part of packaged tours to South Africa or opted to stay across the border in Zambia.

However, the formation of the coalition government helped ease political tensions resulting in markets in the West recovering after governments there lifted negative travel advisories on Zimbabwe.

Figures released by the ministry of finance show tourist arrivals reaching 2.2 million by year-end earning the country a projected US$770 million.

Last year 2 million people visited Zimbabwe bringing in US$523 million.

This reversal of fortunes between the two countries must be considered to be an expected 'normalization' of things because of Zimbabwe's far more developed tourism infrastructure and general economy, which during the bad years the country was not able to take advantage of. 

With talk of elections in 2011, it remains to be seen whether Zimbabwe can conduct them in a way that does not again scare off foreign visitors.


Post a Comment