With close to 1000 passengers landing at the Victoria Falls Airport daily on average, Zimbabwe’s tourism executives are confident the sector is on right course to bounce back to levels experienced before COVID-19.
According to Caj News, Victoria Falls is Zimbabwe’s prime destination and conference capital, boasting of visitors from across the globe.
The local giant airport was upgraded to handle wide bodied aircraft and more than 1,5 million passengers per annum before the global pandemic struck. Barbara Murasiranwa, Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Matabeleland North representative, said 2022 had been positive. “Arrivals this year have been exciting for the industry,” she said.
Murasiranwa said more airlines were making their way back to Victoria Falls, bringing hope for the tourism sector. “We used to receive about 900 passengers per day from all the airlines before this fell to about 100 during lockdown. We are building up back to where we used to be before and that’s exciting,” she said. “The industry is actually picking up at a rate that we did not expect which proves that tourism is a low hanging fruit,” the official said.
“We never thought we would be at this stage with our tourist arrivals. We thought it would take three years to recover. Within this year, we should be back to our 2019 figures,” she forecast. Government set a target of a US$5 billion tourism industry by 2025 leveraging on meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions among other initiatives. Murasiranwa believes this is achievable judging by the positive growth.
Tsika Mberi, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Matabeleland North regional manager, believes the lifting of travel restrictions reignited the desire to travel. Arrivals in Zimbabwe are projected to trend around 2,3 million by the end of this year. In 2019, there were 2,29 million arrivals. Arrivals dropped drastically in 2020 because of COVID-19 as the country received 639 000 tourists.
Speaking in Victoria Falls recently, Vice President Costantino Chiwenga, said medical tourism will soon be the resort city’s drawcard and plans are underway to upgrade health infrastructure to match destination status. Chiwenga is also the Minister of Health and Childcare.