Investment critical for growth in tourism: AAT

There is need to invest in human capital and property development as a means of refining the country’s tourism sector to match international standards, says the Chief Executive of Africa Albida Tourism and Atta's Director Ross Kennedy in his recent communication.

Zimbabwe has received much positive press in the United Kingdom recently. What impact does this have on the Zimbabwe brand?

This growth in positive press in both consumer media and trade media has a significantly positive impact on brand Zimbabwe and destination Zimbabwe. The kind and quality of the media that have started to write such positive articles about us, have very high levels of readership in terms of distribution but also readers in the higher socio-economic group i.e. those with above average disposable income.

For ourselves at Africa Albida Tourism, we have seen a remarkable growth from the UK market to Zimbabwe in the last 15 months, with arrivals trebling since 2012. The first 2 months of 2014, have seen the United Kingdom market continue to grow and it is now approximately 10% of total arrivals in Victoria Falls. We aim to grow this further to at least 20% of our arrivals.

The interest and demand from the UK travel trade for educational trips, media trips and indeed client bookings continues to grow month by month. There is no reason to doubt that this growth in arrivals in Victoria Falls will continue throughout the rest of the country given that the United Kingdom was in the past one of our key source markets for many years and has the potential to be so again.

Statistics of tourism arrivals into Zimbabwe improved in 2013 compared to that of 2012. What needs to be done to keep numbers on an upward trend?

2013 arrivals into Victoria Falls, where we measure amongst our colleagues and competitors on a monthly basis, showed an increase in arrivals of 11.9% over the 2012 calendar year; but equally, if not more importantly, revenues grew by 20% in the same period.

As a tourism industry in Victoria Falls, and indeed across the country, we have a significant responsibility to continue enhancing the positive news about brand and destination Zimbabwe. This includes ensuring that levels of quality, service and hospitably are continually refined, upgraded and enhanced to meet international standards and expectations. Furthermore, it is important that we ensure that our products and the experience we offer is not only value for money but exceeds guests expectations. Two of the key issues in delivering the above are investing in people and training, and investing in our properties.