Tuesday, 26 July 2011 02:00
Lodges and other accommodation facilities in Mana Pools National Park are fully booked until September. National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority regional manager Mr Tawanda Gotoso said visits by international tourists to Mana Pools had significantly increased this year compared to previous years.
He said international tourists had fully taken up lodges and camp facilities until the end of September. The park offers prime game viewing sites based on its unique water system.
“There has been a great increase of arrivals this year and at the moment we are fully booked by international tourists up to the beginning of the rain season,” he said.
Since the beginning of this year, Mana Pools has recorded an average of 300 to 400 tourist occupants per month.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority launched a new tourism brand “Zimbabwe, A World of Wonders” aimed at marketing and restoring the country’s image that had been tarnished by the international media.
Mr Gotoso attributed the increase to improved marketing of the country.
“Tourist arrivals are being encouraged by change of perceptions about the country on the international arena,” he said.
Mana Pools is a Unesco World Heritage Site which is home to thousands of elephants, hippopotamus, lions, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, wild dogs among other animal species.
Mr Gotoso, however, said there was need to improve infrastructure within national parks.
“Tourism is based on wildlife, therefore we should put more support in the national parks,” he said.
A tour operator in Mana Pools, Mr Justin Mabhena, said more campsites were being opened to cater for the increased tourist flow.
“We are opening more camp sites so that we can accommodate the increasing number of tourists,” he said.
According to statistics released by the Safari Tour Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe, bookings have increased by at least 20 percent during the first half of the year. – New Ziana.