GERMANY tourists who spent US$30 000 in a five-day tour of Zimbabwe that straddled the Victoria Falls and Mana Pools have cried foul over the high cost associated with visiting Zimbabwe’s tourist attractions.
Whilst they spoke glowingly of the country’s tourist attractions, hospitality and the country’s warm people, the Germans said they were stunned to spend US$500 per couple per night.
“For a couple we were paying a maximum of US$500 for bed and breakfast,” Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Southern & East Africa president Werner Gordes said.
“We spent US$30 000 for a group of 10 over five days. Compare this with South Africa or even Zambia. You kick yourself out. It’s a big problem especially for Germans, even though I know the world always thinks of Germans as big spenders,” he added.
A recent study revealed that German tourists flash the cash whilst on holiday more than any other nationality.
In the year ended 2009 they were said to have splurged more than $90 billion on their travels despite the recession, propping up other economies by eating out, buying clothes and visiting expensive tourist attractions.
However, Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Southern & East Africa president Gordes said their pockets had felt the heat of Zimbabwe’s tanking economy.
While many players in the hotel sector have increased prices in a bid to stay adrift of galloping inflation and the skyrocketing open market, some are charging tourists at 1:1 rate and then extending a token 30 percent discount.
For an RTGS $100 meal a tourist is paying US$30 (RTGS$210 on the open market).
Gordes said most Germans’ budgets have become tighter, they prefer tourist products and services which are not only good value for money, but also fairly priced.
The Germans, some who are prominent players in thier country’s tourism sector were on a five-day tour of Zimbabwe with the view of assessing areas of possible cooperation.
In total the Germans were made up of 90 agents who visited Southern Africa with a group of 10 branching out to view Zimbabwe and possible areas of cooperation.
“We have nine groups from Germany travelling to Africa, from Ethiopia, to Kenya, Botswana to South Africa,” Gordes said.
“So we decided that one of the groups should be in Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe is part of the family – of Southern Africa and part of our family. It has to be integrated as a way to give a signal to tour operators that Zimbabwe is back, that Zimbabwe is back on the tourism map. That was my aim not only because I love Zimbabwe but its strategic thinking,” Gordes added.
On his outlook for Germany to Zimbabwe tourist visitations, Gordes insisted: “Let’s be conservative. It’s a first step of many many steps. My discussions with ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) were very fruitful.”
German tour operator representative Ulrich Brandner who runs nature and adventure trips said the visit to Zimbabwe was an eye opener.
Brandner was representing Pan Natura Africa which markets various destinations by doing road shows in Germany as well as engaging would-be visitors through social media ads.
“Zimbabwe is a big treasure and I say to the Zimbabwean policy makers ‘take your money and put it into the German market’ so that people get aware of this beautiful country. German is a big market in Europe for Zimbabwe with 80 million people living in Germany, we have another 40 million outside Germany, 120 million who speak Germany, invest in this market and you will get 100 times more,” Brandner said.