Local players in the tourism and hospitality industry say they expect a much accelerated rebound of the sector to pre — Covid 19 pandemic levels as tourist arrivals continue to recover from a two-year dip since the novel corona virus was discovered in 2020.
The sector’ sense of optimism comes after it took a huge battering from the Covid-19 pandemic, which undoubtedly took toll on the hospitality industry globally, bringing the sector down on its knees from early 2020 to recent times.
All nations responded by closing their boarders and grounding some flights.
Selected cases of Covid-19 lockdowns were, however, reported in China early this year ,but generally there has been sanity with regards to the pandemic.
According to local hotelier, African Sun the “Covid-19 pandemic’s hold on everyday life has significantly waned compared to the first six months of 2022.”
Consequently, a lot of travelling has resumed globally, a development that has seen significant improvement in demand for travel and tourism products.
Statistics show that Zimbabwe’s tourist arrival levels in the current year reflect recovery of 46 percent in comparison to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, a period that is considered as the last normal trading year before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Emmanuel Fundira, the African Sun chairman in the half-year financials to June 2022, indicated that his group recorded a generally gradual and consistent increase in occupancy in the first six months of the year, closing June 2022 with a 54 percent growth compared to 28 percent recorded in January 2022.
“In the first half of 2022, African Sun delivered performance that was ahead of the same period last year in spite of the challenging economic environment that prevailed during the period under review.
“The uptick in international arrivals is gathering pace and points towards a strong second half of the year leading into our peak summer season,” said Fundira.
A global hospitality industry benchmarking and marketplace insights provider, STR has since revealed that global occupancy rates increased to 66 percent in June 2022, compared to 43 percent recorded in January 2022.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) chief executive, Paul Matamisa, said there have been indications of good recovery in the uptake of tourism products, which he alluded was encouraging given the devastating effects brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.
“There certainly is a positive trend that has developed ever since we opened up from the strict lockdowns, people are beginning to move, one thing that is interesting is that Zimbabweans are now coming out in full force in terms of visiting tourism resorts and tourist centres, so it is quite encouraging.
“So we are looking at a better season especially when we look at the oncoming festive season, which we hope is going to be better,” said Matamisa.
He, however, acknowledged that the industry was beginning to witness a surge in international tourist arrivals albeit being slow from what the industry would have wanted.
He said it needed to be understood that international tourism takes a long time to plan for long haul destinations like Zimbabwe.
“Positive indications are beginning to show from major source markets, but we are really looking at a better 2023 judging from the current situation.
“Zimbabwe is a long-haul destination, so tourists take a long time to plan in order to visit this part of the world , because they
will be looking at saving first before they travel.”
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer in its latest findings revealed that international tourism is on a positive trajectory as it recorded a strong recovery in the first
five months of 2022 as the period under review recorded nearly 250 million international arrivals compared to the 77 million tourist arrivals between January to May in 2021.