Harare – Tourist arrivals from South Africa dropped 27% to 96 587 during the first quarter of the year, a slump, which has drawn major concern from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The drop was from 132 495 recorded over a corresponding period in 2016 and was recorded despite this year’s first quarter arrivals being up 6% to 479 718.
In ZTA’s first quarter report of the year released yesterday, the authority said the drop was concerning, as South Africa is the country’s biggest source market.
“Arrivals from mainland Africa registered 400 290 foreign tourist arrivals up from 380 790 in 2016, representing a 5% increase. The region continues to command the bulk of arrivals (84%) into Zimbabwe,” ZTA said.
“The stagnation of in arrivals from South Africa, the country’s major market is of major concern, as the market is Zimbabwe’s major market. This calls for serious consideration in addressing facilitation issues especially at Beitbridge. There is also need to seriously look at upgrading roads especially the Harare Beitbridge highway.”
Of the total number of visitors from South Africa, 84 234 were tourists, while 12 353 were transit arrivals.
In terms of percentage, the decline was 27,24% and 26,11% drop in tourist and transit arrivals, respectively, from 2016. In terms of arrivals, the drop in tourist and transit arrivals over the same timeframe in 2016 was 115 776 and 16 719 respectively.
The facilitation issues at the border refer to travellers having to move from one office to another to process papers, instead of it being done in one office.
Despite the government, in March 2016, bumping China to category B from C on Zimbabwe’s visa regime, arrivals from that country dropped by 65% to 1 413 for the period under review from 4 043 recorded over the comparative period in 2016.
This drop from China led to a decline of 4% in arrivals from Asia to 13 385 in the first quarter from a previous of 14 004 in 2016.
The overall rise in tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe was mainly due to other countries from mainland Africa. Over the same period in 2016, overall tourist arrivals were 450 572.
“The Americas has been the major increasing market in 2016, and continues to increase in the first quarter of 2017. The region contributed 23 297 arrivals, 3% up from 22 620 in the first quarter of 2016. It should be important to note that while Zimbabwe received 23 297 arrivals, neighbouring South Africa received 78 548 in the first 2 months alone,” ZTA said.
ZTA said the Oceania arrivals have been one of the three increasing regions, registering a 26% increase to 5 840 from 4 641 arrivals in 2016 with Australia registering a positive performance of 17%.