Tourism in Zimbabwe Is On The Upswing Again
Following years of struggle precipitated by the country’s controversial Land Reform Program of 2000, which saw tourism plunge by over 75%, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is now showing major signs of a recovery. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) reports that there has been a 12% increase in arrivals for the first half of this year compared to last, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO held it’s biannual General Assembly recently at Zimbabwe’s breathtaking Victoria Falls.
The successful hosting of UNWTO at the crown jewel of Zimbabwe’s many tourist attractions, sends the signal that Zimbabwe is a ready to become an international tourist destination hot spot. Karikoga Kaseke, the chief executive of the ZTA has said that he anticipates Zimbabwe will be receiving more than three million tourists annually by 2015, which would be more than double the peak of 1.4 million tourists that the country attracted during the 1999 calendar year.
With a collection of five United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Sites in a county that is the roughly the size of the US state of Montana, or the country of Germany, Zimbabwe offers natural treasures that simply cant not be seen or duplicated anywhere else.
The majesty of Victoria Falls, at two kilometers wide, is the world’s widest waterfal, Mana Pools National Park, provides one of Africa’s top wildlife viewing opportunities with unspoiled vistas supporting large herds of elephants, buffalo, hippopotamuses and a large resident population of crocodiles. Other Zimbabwean UNESCO Cultural Sites include the remains of stone age cave settlements in Matobo Hills National Park, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, the capital city of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe which was abandoned in the 14th century, and the ruins of Khami a city that was once the capitol of the Kingdom of Butua dating back to the 16th century.
From an economic perspective tourism is a vital source of hard currency for Zimbabwe. Since enacting reforms in 2009 which retired their national currency to adopt the US Dollar as their primary currency in conjunction with the Pound, the Euro and the South African Rand – the country has seen economic growth rates over 5% year over year fueling a recovery and return to tourist travel lists. In an interview, Mr. Kaseke went on to state that the successful hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly would bear fruit for Zimbabwe, sending a clear message to the international community that Zimbabwe is a safe destination worthy of attention from adventurous travelers which will lead to more than 1.5 billion dollars in tourism receipts for the country by 2015. With the unrivaled collection of wonders, exotic culture and newly-stabilized domestic situation, it’s easy to share optimism about the future of Zimbabwe!