Zimbabwe Re-Awakening From Its Tourism Slump

Victoria Falls.

Johannesburg — Zimbabwe has emerged among the top global destinations for South Africans as the move by the new administration to revive the tourism industry pays dividends.

The neighbouring country has proven a top destination alongside Mauritius.

Mauritius ranks top globally followed by Thailand while Zimbabwe emerges third.

United Arab Emirates and Turkey occupy fourth and fifth positions while Namibia has emerged eighth globally but remains third best African destination after Mauritius and Zimbabwe to record highest flight bookings from South Africa.

According to a report by Travelport, Mauritius topped the world with a total of 17 764 flight bookings from South Africa, representing 17 percent.

Thailand occupies second with 12 602 flight bookings (27 percent) while Zimbabwe recorded a comprehensive 9 506 flights, which represents 20 percent increase.

The latter's figures are impressive, demonstrating the success of the "Zimbabwe is Open for Business" mantra promoted by the government of recently elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Other international destinations among the top ten comprise United Arab Emirates (UAE), which occupies fourth with a total 9 474 flights bookings (17 percent).

Turkey are fifth with a total of 6 837 (63 percent), Indonesia came sixth with a gross of 6 135 (51 percent), United Kingdom are seventh with 5 154 flights (5 percent) while Namibia are eighth with 4 663 (9 percent).

The world's second largest economy, China, which is also a member of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) recorded 4 291 flights representing a 10 percent increase.

Netherlands are tenth with a total of 3 627 flights bookings representing a 20 percent increase.

The data reflected bookings made in South Africa through global distribution systems (GDS).

The Travelport report added additional flight bookings would have been made directly with airlines, which might or might not also have a GDS presence.

Travelport recently held its LIVE Africa event in Cape Town, bringing over 200 business leaders from across the globe to discuss the challenges and opportunities disruptive technologies, like big data, pose to the travel industry in Africa.

Managing Director for Travelport in charge of Africa, Guido Verweij confirmed Mauritius, Thailand and Zimbabwe as countries that have recorded greatest growth in flight bookings from travelers in South Africa1 in the last 12 months.

"While Zimbabwe has long been a contentious destination for South Africans, following its economic and political stabilization we've seen a spike in bookings to the country, which boasts stunning destinations like Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe has also seen new carriers like Fastjet introduce direct flights from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport," Verweij said.

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