Three hundred and forty three tourists from China touched down at Robert Mugabe International Airport Thursday afternoon amid renewed efforts by government to increase tourist arrivals from the East Asian country with a population of over one billion.
Zimbabwe, as a tourism destination, has not been performing well in the Chinese market since the closure of the Zimbabwe Tourist Office in Beijing and the withdrawal of Air Zimbabwe flights in September 2011.
The tourists from China are the first batch of at least 10 000 tourists from the East Asian country expected to visit Zimbabwe in the next five years.
Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira who welcomed the group at the airport said the visit was historic.
“This historic visit highlights the yield of tangible results from the strategic comprehensive partnership emanating from the MoU signed between the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Touchroad International Holdings Group in China during His Excellency, Cde Mnangagwa’s inaugural state visit in April 2018,” Mupfumira said.
“The MoU was signed between the two friendly countries to cooperate in the field of Tourism Investment and Promotion, and as we gather here today we are witnessing the implementation of the agreed areas of co-operation materialiasing in full,” she added.
The historic group of over 343 Chinese business and leisure tourists are making their last lag of whirlwind 10-day African journey that started in Djibouti, continued in Tanzania and is now ending at destination Zimbabwe.
“This is not a once off visit of such groups to Africa, we are expecting more groups coming to Zimbabwe, targeting about 10 000 Chinese arrivals through this initiative,” Mupfumira said.
“Zimbabwe, as a tourism destination, has not been performing well in the Chinese market since the closure of the Zimbabwe Tourist Office in Beijing and the withdrawal of Air Zimbabwe flights in September 2011.”
She added: “These negative market developments saw tourist arrivals from China seriously declining from its peak of 30 549 arrivals in 2011 to 11 439 in 2018. Therefore partnering Touchroad, one of the leading investment companies in China, has the capacity to increase tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe from China, through the recently launched initiative. This partnership has a great potential to open many opportunities for Zimbabwe to grow the Chinese tourist market.”
The China-Zimbabwe tourism engagement is a landmark opportunity for the country to further drive partnerships while marketing Zimbabwe as a destination of choice across multiple channels.
The Tour Africa-The New Horizon Tourism Project is also a grand opportunity that is meant to open the Chinese market to destination Zimbabwe.
Tourism has become a central pillar of Zimbabwe’s economic progress, supplementing the local GDP and contributing to the country’s economic diversity.
Last year the sector contributed $1, 3 billion to the fiscus and the sector is aiming to attain $1,5 billion.