Zimbabwe recorded a 10% average rise in foreign tourist arrivals between 2009 and the first half 2011, driven by a stability in the political environment and massive marketing campaigns branding Zimbabwe a safe tourist destination.
According to a report compiled by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the country has since dollarisation registered growth in foreign tourist arrivals.
Foreign tourist arrivals from 2009 to the first half of 2011 totalled 4 913 731. Of these arrivals, Africa accounted for 84%. In 2009 there was a 3% increase in arrivals on average. In 2010 arrivals grew 11% while they grew by 16% in 2011.
The first half of 2011 recorded 657 302 tourist arrivals, representing a 16% increase from the 568 706 recorded in 2010.
Arrivals from Africa rose to 566 913, an increase of 11% from the 510 310 recorded in the same period in 2010. South Africa remained the leading contributor of arrivals from Africa, accounting for 246 889 visitors in H1 2011. However, this was a 33% decrease from the 367 538 recorded over the same period in 2010. The highest increase in arrivals to Zimbabwe was by Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, with the rise being attributed to increased trade between those countries and Zimbabwe.
In the first half of 2011, overseas visitors accounted for 14% of arrivals in Zimbabwe, with nearly two fifths of those coming from Europe.
Actual arrivals from Europe in the first half of 2011 were up 51% to 34 713, from 23 030 recorded in the same period in 2010. Of these arrivals 24 192 were from Britain and Ireland.
The USA remained a major overseas source market, recording 17 351 in the first half of 2011, up 141% from the same period in 2010.
The ZTA attributes the decrease in Europe’s market share of vistors to the financial crisis sparked by the eurozone debt. The resultant illiquid economy in Europe and high loss of jobs has affected tourist arrivals from the region.
Tourist arrivals from Asia in the first half of 2011 increased to 21 959, rising by 104 % from 10 771 recorded in the same period in 2010. China was the major source of the Asian market’s share of arrivals in Zimbabwe, registering a total of 9 460 arrivals in H1 2011, up by 213% from 3 023 arrivals recorded in the same period in 2010.
In the first half of 2011, arrivals from Mexico declined by 78% to 264 from the 1220 recorded in the same period in 2010.
Where arrivals have declined between 2010 and 2011, this has been partly been attributed to the end of the soccer World Cup held in South Africa in 2010. During 2010 Zimbabwe had recorded an 11% increase in tourist arrivals compared to the previous year (2009), four percentage points above global arrivals for that year and five percentage points above regional arrivals.
Of the 2 239 165 arrivals received by Zimbabwe in 2010, Africa contributed 87%, followed by Europe (6%), the Americas (3%) and Asia (2%).