victoria falls VFSL imageVisitors are flocking to Victoria Falls in record numbers in a sure sign that Zimbabwe tourism is turning a corner, an industry leader says.

Latest figures reveal hotel occupancy rates at Victoria Falls are  hitting an all time high, sitting at 77.6 per cent last month, compared to 62.6 per cent during August last year.

Ross Kennedy said the boom in tourists had impacted across all sectors, from 2 star to 5 star accommodation, and big hotels to exclusive boutique properties.

Most performance benchmarks, including revenue earned and visitor numbers, had been smashed during the month of August, Mr Kennedy said.

“This is a sure sign that Zimbabwe tourism, and the destination are rapidly turning a corner, after three years of positive growth,” Mr Kennedy said.

Nearly 13,000 more rooms have been sold so far this year, compared to the same period last year, an increase of 11.7 per cent, Mr Kennedy said.

And last month alone close to 5000 extra – or 25 per cent more – hotel rooms were sold than during August last 2013.

The figures are based on industry data across ten Victoria Falls hotels, including the Elephant Hills Hotel, Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Hotel and the A’Zambezi.

Mr Kennedy, also chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), said the surge in arrivals this year had culminated in August where all monthly records for flagship property, the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, had been broken since it opened in 1994.

Occupancy at all four AAT properties – others are Lokuthula Lodges, Victoria Falls Safari Club and Victoria Falls Safari Suites – had been at over 80 per cent in August, Mr Kennedy said.

The Boma Restaurant, one of the region’s busiest and a Victoria Falls “must do” for visitors, served more than 7,500 guests dinner in August, a new record of 830 more than any previous month, he said.

Bookings for the remainder of 2014 and 2015  were very healthy and the number of different countries where visitors are coming from is steadily growing, further enhancing demand and reputation, he said.

The data showed most visitors to the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge were from the United States, followed by Australia, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

“It all adds up to a bright picture ahead,” Mr Kennedy said.

“August results confirmed what we have believed for the last three years, that Victoria Falls is once again firmly establishing itself as an iconic tourism destination,” Mr Kennedy said.

“These powerful statistics, all add up to enhancing the growing status of Victoria Falls, as a regional hub,” Mr Kennedy said.

“A status that surely will be endorsed and sealed when the new Victoria Falls International Airport opens in mid 2015.

“In comparison to current world tourism trends, these statistics are simply staggering, and a powerful reminder of the positive impact that a strong tourism industry can have on an economy.”

From : Atta

30 September 2014