By Thupeyo Muleya
There has been a 35 percent increase in the number of tourists participating in overland tours between Zimbabwe and South Africa since the beginning of the year.
The tourists entered the country mainly through Beitbridge Border Post.
It is understood that the figures have been surging after the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa embarked on a massive re-engagement programme and adopted the Zimbabwe is open for business initiative.
Statistics from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) reveal that an average of 80 000 new tourists arrive in the country via Beitbridge Border Post monthly.
The tourists come at the invitation of various travel agencies in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Upon arrival at Beitbridge, they are assisted by ZTA to enter the country.
“I am from Cape Town. For the last five years I have worked as a guide with several groups of tourists. The Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and Great Zimbabwe Ruins seem to be getting a lot of interests from tourists,” said Mr Julan Hepple of G-Adventures.
“We bring in a mixture of people from Canada, America, and Europe. We are having the Discover South Africa and Zimbabwe tours at least twice per month. The number of participants on our waiting list has increased this year by 35 percent.
“We are working on including the Eastern Highlands on our package.”
He said most of the tourists were impressed with the efficiency of systems at the border.
He said the majority of their clients had promised to visit again on private tours.
A Zimbabwean tour guide based in the neighbouring country, Mr Lesley Mukwacha said they were bringing in a lot of new tourists on each overland tour.
“The package include a number of tourists’ attractions in the two countries especially the Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Victoria Falls and Great Zimbabwe Ruins as a result of aggressive marketing. The number of new participants from overseas is impressive,” he said.
Mr Jon Pretorius said they had noted a sudden change in the trend in people intending to visit Zimbabwe.
“I have been driving tourists from South Africa during the last seven years and recently we have suddenly got busy with many people expressing willingness to visit this country (Zimbabwe). There are lot of tourists’ attractions here awaiting explorations,” he said.