Zimbabwe’s top resort town, Victoria Falls, has received a record number of tourists, and healthy forward bookings, according to Africa Albida Tourism (AAT).

AAT Chief Executive, Ross Kennedy, said monthly measurements across ten hotels in Victoria Falls revealed a 13% increase in occupancy, with more than 5 000 additional rooms sold over the first three months of 2018 compared with the same period last year.

“Talking to my colleagues in the town, it is clear that forward bookings are much stronger than usual for the rest of 2018 and all indicators for 2019 reflect continued growth,” says Kennedy.

These bookings, he says, suggest that Victoria Falls is heading toward becoming a one-season destination, meaning a high season all year round with short troughs here and there.

Other indicators included a 25% growth in revenue across the ten hotels over the first three months of this year, compared with the same period last year, as well as an 11% increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key measurement.

“The number of new rooms either under construction and/or about to open adds further evidence of the confidence that existing and new investors are showing in Victoria Falls as a tourist destination,” comments Kennedy.

Victoria Falls was not alone in drawing large numbers of tourists, with nearby Hwange National Park experiencing a busy year last year, and also receiving significant growth and new investment into new camps and lodges, says Kennedy. “There are four or five new camps and lodges that have opened or are about to open in the Hwange area, as well as two or three new investors into existing national parks.

“On the back of this very clear demand for Victoria Falls and the region, airlines such as Airlink are increasing capacity on the Cape Town-Victoria Falls route from July.”

Reports from Matopos, Mana Pools and Kariba also suggest that arrivals and interest are significantly up, but air access needs to be improved to these destinations, and the self-drive market, both local and international to return, he says.

“Together with this growth trend, the industry looks forward to the day when our national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is flying tourists around Zimbabwe to our destinations, with improved access for domestic tourists and visitors alike.”