VICTORIA FALLS, Sept 5, (The Source) – Average hotel room occupancy levels in the country rose by 2 percentage points in the first half of the year to stand at 41 percent from 39 percent recorded in 2012, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) figures show.
However, the average hotel bed occupancy levels contracted by 5 percentage points from 37 percent in 2012, the statistics show.
According to the ZTA, Harare and Masvingo recorded significant decline in occupancies and research has shown that this was largely due to reduced conferencing activities during the first half of 2013 as compared to 2012, whose whole length had constitution making activities which had spilled over from 2011.
Notable increases were recorded in Victoria Falls and Midlands along with Hwange, Nyanga and Bulawayo which had modest increase, the ZTA said.
“Increases in Victoria Falls during the first half of the year, were to a certain extent caused by the clients rescheduling their intended bookings to earlier in the year, so as to avoid the “hustle and bustle” connected with UNWTO General Assembly in the second half of the year,” it said.
“It is also worth noting that the improvement in connectivity resulting from the resumption of Air Zimbabwe flights between Victoria Falls and Harare/Johannesburg is another major factor leading to the improved performance of the resort during the first half of the year.”
Midlands province, ZTA said, has been very suppressed for a long time, however as a result of hosting increasing conferences and the increasing popularity of the Midlands Agricultural Show, occupancies have seen an increase in that region.
“One of the factors that gives the region favourable occupancy percentages is the general lack of capacity as the region only has 314 rooms causing little actual increase to seem huge percentage wise.”
The national average hotel bed occupancy level according to ZTA fell by 5 percentage points, despite having increased in room occupancy levels, with the greatest decline of 28 percentage points being registered by Masvingo.
“Victoria Falls experienced the highest growth in bed occupancies (+23 percentage points) and a significant growth in room occupancies (+21 percentage points) and Bulawayo experienced a marginal decline in bed occupancies (-2 percentage points) while at the same time recording an increase in room occupancies (+3 percentage points), signaling a possible increase in business rather than leisure clientele in these areas,” the report said.
ZTA said that UNWTO forecasts continued growth in international tourism in 2013 although at a rather slower rate than previously envisaged.
In this light, arrivals are expected to increase by 3–4 percent according to long term projections by the international board.
“With the rejuvenation of the country’s major markets, arrivals into Zimbabwe are expected to ride on this positive trend throughout the year. This is so especially considering the current performance of markets like China, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and France, the ZTA said.
“Positive trends in 2013 are also expected to hinge on the improved accessibility into the country, a stable post election environment and the probable interim after-effects of hosting UNWTO General Assembly.”