Tinashe Makichi Business Reporter
Zimbabwe’s tourist arrivals for 2014 grew 2,6 percent to 1 880 028 from 1 832 583 recorded in the previous year, a report on tourism performance for 2014 released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has revealed. The growth in arrivals was 0,7 percentage points below the Sub Sahara growth of 3,3 percent. The report said there was growth in arrivals from all of the country’s major source regions except Asia with Zimbabwe still receiving 85 percent of tourist arrivals from low value markets

Tourism receipts for the period recorded a marginal three percent decline to $827 million from $856 million and this to an extent reflects a slight decline in expenditure.

In terms of accommodation Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls constitute the majority (64 percent) of all the room and bed capacity in the country making them the major regions in accommodation.

The average room occupancy levels for Harare rose to 59 percent in 2014 from 52 percent in 2013.

In Bulawayo the room occupancy fell to 44 percent from 52 percent while in Victoria Falls room occupancy also fell to 49 percent from 53 percent.

The bed occupancy levels in Harare also rose to 43 percent from 35 percent and Bulawayo declined in average bed occupancy levels to 32 percent from 34 percent while Victoria Falls declined to 40 percent from 48 percent in 2013.

Overall, the national average hotel room occupancy levels remained inert at 48 percent while bed occupancy levels fell by a percentage point to 36 percent from 37 percent in 2014.

“Except in Victoria Falls which had a foreign clientele of 73 percent, the domestic clientele drove the accommodation sector with 78 percent of hotel clientele being local.

“This was however, inhibited by slow economic growth,” said the report.

The report said discontinuation of direct flights to Harare by the Royal Dutch Airlines in October, and Egypt Air in September 2014 has dealt a blow on Zimbabwean tourism, especially as the country continues to battle with connectivity challenges with its major overseas markets.