We had a great week in Zimbabwe, but unfortunately there are still some people a bit nervous about going into President Mugabe’s land. We hope to blog next (with photo’s) of our fun time In Victoria Falls, but for now, you’ll have to do with this pic we took of a very full Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side and a very interesting document that was sent to me today!
Zimbabwe to Record Top Growth!
The Travel & Tourism Economic Impact report for 2010 released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), states Zimbabwe will become the third fastest growing country on its travel and tourism economy’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), buoyed by a stable political environment and the spin-offs from the World Cup, growing by 9,4% this year.
The report estimates that between 2011 and 2020, Zimbabwe will record annual growth rates of 8,7%, trailing China as the fastest growing tourism economy.
The report was done by WTTC in conjunction with Oxford Economics, a leading economic forecasting consultancy firm. Adrian Cooper, Oxford Economic MD, said the forecast growth was premised on the normalisation of the environment, allowing local businesses to grow. Since the formation of the inclusive government last year, the business environment has improved significantly and restored morale could lead to much higher productivity.
The UNWTO mission responded to a request from Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Walter Mzembi (MP), to assess the current state of tourism in Zimbabwe and identify areas for supportive action. UNWTO’s support for the re-emergence of Zimbabwe as a major African Tourism Centre underscored the special role of tourism in poverty alleviation and job creation, particularly in small and medium enterprises.
A strong commitment was received at all levels of the public and private sector to promote tourism as a key element of renewed national economic development and much of the underlying infrastructure and product remains in place with the challenge being regeneration.
Soccer fans coming to Southern Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup present a unique opportunity to attract visitors to Zimbabwe with millions more tuning in through multimedia, which is a great opportunity to spotlight Zimbabwe’s tourism product, particularly the world-renowned Victoria Falls.
UNWTO will explore how to help tourism in Zimbabwe in a number of basic areas such as capacity building, community tourism, brand development, statistics, issues around 2010 preparedness, strengthening competitiveness, national park conservation and how Victoria Falls can successfully transform to the green economy.
Bench International has launched a fly-in Zimbabwe safari, on the back of returning consumer confidence in the destination. The wholesaler’s chairman, Mike Kirkland, said gradual growth in the market during 2009 took a leap in the last three months with Zimbabwe becoming the second most popular of the 15 countries to which Bench sent Australian travellers.
Many lodges and destinations are reopening to tourists, helped by an improvement in the Zimbabwe economy, resulting from the switch from the Zimbabwe dollar to foreign currencies such as the South African rand, Botswana pula and the United States dollar.
Kirkland said that traffic to Zimbabwe for the last quarter had amounted to 13% of Bench’s sales, consisting of both group and independent traffic. He added: “What is more significant is that many of the itineraries included areas of Zimbabwe other than Victoria Falls. There has been a significant return of interest in places like Hwange National Park and Lake Kariba, where the legendary Bumi Hills property has been re-built.”
Ross Kennedy, Chief Executive of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), who markets and manages the Bumi Hills property says: “The currency switch has changed everything, and there’s a sense that the challenges Zimbabwe has faced as a nation over the past 10 years have passed. It’s a destination people once again should be selling.”
Kennedy added: “Because of its remoteness – nearly 900km from the capital Harare – Victoria Falls has been largely isolated from political problems and has always been a popular and safe stepping-off point to destinations around the falls, for Botswana’s Chobe National Park, home to Africa’s largest elephant population, and whitewater rafting activities on the Zambezi.”
Kennedy said with the Zimbabwe National Tourism body having limited funds, it was reliant on the private sector to try and build interest, such as tourism establishments and operators, promoting the country to the fantastic destination it once was.
So, here’s to many future bookings in Zimbabwe!