Zimbos top SA tourist arrivals

Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe contributed up to two million tourists to South Africa in 2017, becoming the largest source of African visitors to the neighbouring country, a report has shown.

Highlights from a recent report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), on Africa’s hotel sector, indicate that Zimbabweans are major visitors to South Africa for various reasons.

“Of African visitors, the largest number came from Zimbabwe at two million, followed by Lesotho at 1,8 million and Mozambique at 1,3 million,” reads part of the report.

More Zimbabweans are believed to be resident in South Africa. The two countries share close historical, cultural, bilateral and economic ties. South Africa is a sub-regional economic power house in Southern Africa and history has shown this attribute gives it a pull-factor to migrants and a diversity of tourists.

According to PwC’s report “Hotels Outlook: 2018-2022”, the entire Africa’s hotel sector has potential for further growth over the next five years. South Africa, for instance, is expected to expand her hotel room revenue to R21,8 billion in 2022, up 5,6 percent compounded annually, from R16,6 billion in 2017.  PwC says an increase in the number of foreign and domestic travellers, as well as an expansion in a number of hotel chains on the continent, is likely to reinforce the hotel sector’s untapped potential for business growth.

Zimbabwe under the new political dispensation is positioning herself for increased tourism arrivals and subsequent earnings. Recently, the country has started implementing policy measures and marketing programmes aimed at increasing both domestic and international tourism.

The PwC report also includes information about hotel accommodation in Nigeria, Mauritius, Kenya and Tanzania and projects that hotel room revenue for the five markets as a group will increase at a 7,4 percent compound annual rate to R50,5 billion in 2022 from R35,2 billion in 2017.

The report projects that the number of foreign visitors and domestic tourism to the neighbouring country will increase by 5,3 percent this year and reach 19,5 million by 2022, a 4 percent compound annual increase from 16 million in 2017.  The United Kingdom remains the largest non-African source of visitors to South Africa at 447 901 in 2017 with China and India, also contributing significantly, says PwC.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is expected to be the fastest-growing country over the next five years on the back of new hotels scheduled to be opened as well as continued improvement in the domestic economy. Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius should be the next fastest growing, with compound annual increases of 9,6 percent, 9,1 percent and 7,2 percent, respectively, reads the report.

PwC head of hospitality industry in Southern Africa, Mr  Pietro Calicchio commented: “Tourism to the African continent has proven to be resilient in the face of economic and political uncertainty, impacts of droughts and other regulatory changes. The opportunities are plenty for this industry to enjoy further growth albeit at a more modest pace. However, as we continue to see there are also a number of challenges facing each country. This is an industry that is reactive to the smallest change in political, regulatory, safety and sustainability matters.”

The hotels and tourism sectors in each of the countries in the report are all showing signs of continued growth over the forecast period. Tourism remains an important part of African economies.

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