Zimbabwe: Conferencing Triggers Tourism Growth


The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says accommodation statistics at hotels in most regions of the country have improved significantly in the first quarter of the year, largely as a result of increased use for conferences and seminars by corporate clients and other organisations.

In its Tourism Statistics Report for the first quarter 2012, ZTA notes that hotel room occupancy during the period under review increased from 36 percent to 42 percent in all regions except Masvingo and Victoria Falls, when compared to the same period last year.

The national average hotel bed occupancy also rose by four percent from 27 percent to 31 percent in all regions except for Masvingo, Kariba and Victoria Falls.

Room occupancy looks at the average use of conference rooms and other facilities at the establishments while bed occupancy looks at the average number of beds booked during the period.

“A survey on operators in Masvingo indicated that the first quarter has been relatively quiet with little of the business they got having been through conferences and seminars. The decline in both room and bed occupancy for Victoria Falls is to an extend, due to the decline in its major source markets such as Japan, China, South Korea, UK and Germany,” says the report.

The report, however, attributes the positive performance by hotels in most regions to an increase in business from the corporate domestic market that held conferences and seminars at these establishments in the face of a declining foreign tourist market, that has for years, supported hotels in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare/Vumba, Nyanga, Midlands, Masvingo, Kariba, Hwange, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge regions over the years.

Hotels and lodges in Zimbabwe that have hosted conferences and seminars at their establishments since dollarisation in 2009 say they have seen a marked improvement in business.

While establishments in Victoria Falls, Hwange, Bulawayo and to some extend, Harare are pinning their hopes on increased business during the 20th Session of the United Nations World Travel Organisations (UNWTO)’s general assembly that takes place in Victoria Falls, in August 2013, government is still preparing to host the 3,000 plus delegates expected for the conference.

Zimbabwe will co-host the event with Zambia at Livingstone town, across the Zambezi River. Both countries are, however, adamant they deliver a proper event.