Business / Industries

Zimbabwe works to woo Chinese tourists to boost tourism revenue

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-17 10:12

HARARE - Zimbabwean tourism officials have pledged to redouble their efforts in marketing itself in China in order to attract big-spending Chinese tourists to sustain the country's tourism sector.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)'s Chief Executive Karikoga Kaseke, despite home to one of the world's top three waterfalls, Zimbabwe is performing very badly in attracting Chinese tourists compared to its African neighbors. It ranked 13 out of 15 countries in the Southern African Development Community sub-region.

The country attracted only 12,000 Chinese visitors last year, compared to Zambia's 67,000. Morever, Chinese tourist arrival to Zimbabwe recorded a free fall in the first six months this year, plunging to less than 3,000.

Zimbabwe works to woo Chinese tourists to boost tourism revenue
Strong demand for overseas trips during Golden Week 
Zimbabwe works to woo Chinese tourists to boost tourism revenue
SE Asia falls off the map for many Chinese vacationers 

China is considered one of the top outbound tourist markets globally, as more and more of the middle class have grown an appetite for an overseas vacation. Statistics show more than 98 million Chinese traveled overseas in 2013, with the outbound expenditure reaching $128.7 billion.

Zimbabwe has rich tourist resources compared to other African countries. It is a generally peaceful country, has one of the world's largest elephant populations -- about 10,000, and boasts of the mighty Victoria Falls, which ranks among the top three waterfalls globally alongside the Niagara Falls and the Iguasu Falls.

But Zimbabwe's tourism, along with its economy, had been mired in a decade-old recession since the late 1990s. Bad publicity, dilapidated tourism infrastructure, and poor air connectivity are cited as the main drawbacks hampering the growth of Zimbabwe's tourism sector.

Kaseke, speaking at a workshop on how Zimbabwe can attract Chinese outbound tourists held alongside this year's Sanganai/ Hlanganani World Tourism Expo, said the poor performance of Zimbabwe's tourism sector must jolt the country to revamp its marketing efforts in China.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Florence Nhekairo, meanwhile, told Xinhua after the workshop that Zimbabwe needed to re-strategize its marketing strategies to significantly benefit from the growing Chinese market.

"From the results, we are not doing much and we need to do something. We cannot continue to do things in the same way we have been doing," she said.

Adam Wu, chief operating officer of China Business Network, a tourism promoting firm, told participants at the workshop that Zimbabwe needed to work more on projecting a positive image of itself to the outside world, improve air connectivity and develop alternative, unique tourism products in order to attract more Chinese tourists.

The country needed to also aggressively market itself in China, including using the Chinese language and Chinese social media.

"It is not by chance that some of the African countries receiving more Chinese tourists have direct flights to China. Air lifting has been the biggest constraint in Zimbabwe and you need to have a direct flight to China," Wu said.

"You must not just be prepared to wait for the Chinese arrivals, you must get out there to welcome them," he added.

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