TOURIST arrivals in Victoria Falls have increased by 50 percent this year with hotels in the prime resort destination recording 100 percent bookings as more visitors flock into Zimbabwe under the new political dispensation.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira said this during a dinner reception here for World Class Football Legends and their local counterparts on Wednesday evening after a match at the National Sports Stadium.
She said tourism was a key economic pillar hence Government and its stakeholders have taken deliberate steps to increase earnings from the sector.
“The numbers of visitors including the legends coming to Zimbabwe, in Victoria Falls alone, we have had an increase of 50 percent in arrivals since the coming in of the new dispensation.
“Our hotels are 100 percent booked, which last happened in 1999,” said Minister Mupfumira.
Zimbabwe under the new political dispensation led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is implementing a range of domestic business reforms including international re-engagement, which have enthused a diversity of stakeholders across the spectrum.
Since last November when President Mnangagwa assumed power, scores of individuals, business delegations and big organisational representatives have been flocking into the country to explore various investment opportunities as well as leisure.
Similar interest in arrivals was being shown across the diversity of the country’s resort areas.
As such the minister said Government was scaling up efforts to market destination Zimbabwe through various campaigns, working closely with individual and group agencies locally and abroad to project an attractive tourism brand.
Minister Mupfumira said the objective of the Wednesday match between local and foreign football legends was to promote tourism in Zimbabwe through sport in line with Government policy.
Going forward, she said a deal has been made for the World Class Legends to work with the country as tourism ambassadors in the international arena.
Similarly, Minister Mupfumira said local top football clubs — Highlanders and Dynamos – would be ropped in as partners to also assist in drumming up domestic tourism given their influence in the country.
The World Class Legends have been in Zimbabwe for a couple of days and have been taken across different destinations to appreciate the variety of tourism products that the country has, which they will help market.
She said broadening the scope of the tourism industry was critical under the “Zimbabwe is open for businesses” drive, which is a trump-card of President Mnangagwa’s Government.
Minister Mupfumira stressed that Zimbabwe has a rich natural tourism resource base and an attractive culture and skill that makes her best positioned as a top tourist destination.
World Class Legends group leader, Rayco Garcia, said Zimbabwe was an exciting destination and expressed satisfaction with the exposure and experience the delegation got in the country.
“We appreciate all of you for the hospitality and the wonderful days we have had in Victoria Falls, one of the wonders you have in this country. Now is the time to open Zimbabwe for business.
“I feel so proud today and we are putting our hand in placing Zimbabwe in the limelight as a land of opportunity and the future.”
He paid tribute to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) for organising the event and challenged local footballers to up their game and make an impact at the international level.
The legends pledged to facilitate a 10-day attachment for the technical teams from Highlanders and Dynamos with the Spanish top teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid soon.
ZTA chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke also said sport tourism has the potential to drive domestic tourism given its ability to unite people from different backgrounds.