Zimbabwe welcomed a group of about 20 Chinese tourists at Victoria Falls International Airport on Tuesday (May 16). They were the first to arrive since the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is indeed a great honour for me to witness the arrival of this special group of visitors to Zimbabwe, the first tour group from China after the COVID-19 pandemic," said Givemore Chidzidzi, COO of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
Thanks to the Chinese market, Zimbabwe's tourism industry had been on the rebound after suffering massive setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, noted Chidzidzi.
The country witnessed a decline in visitor arrivals from 2.3 million in 2019 to 639 000 in 2020, and tourism revenue declined from US$1.25 billion in 2019 to US$360 million in 2020.
"In 2019, Zimbabwe received 22 000 visitors from China, but this declined to 3 600 arrivals in 2020," said Chidzidzi.
However, arrivals from China to Zimbabwe in 2022 reached 23 422, surpassing the number in 2019 and defying the continuing declining trend in tourist numbers in the current global market, he said.
"We are therefore excited about the return of organised groups like we are witnessing today, as it heralds a new recovery trajectory for tourism from China."
Chidzidzi concluded that ZTA, together with the local tourism industry, had stepped up marketing efforts in China, with Zimbabwe set to participate at China’s leading travel show, Chinese International Travel Mart, later this year, as well as hosting trade and media familiarisation tours.