Zimbabwe welcomes 1st Chinese tour group after pandemic

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By Xinhua

VICTORIA FALLS: Zimbabwe on Tuesday welcomed the first group of 20 Chinese tourists after the COVID-19 pandemic with a ceremony at the Victoria Falls International Airport near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s prime tourist destination.

“It is indeed a great honour for me to witness the arrival of this special group of visitors to Zimbabwe, the first tour group from China after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Givemore Chidzidzi, chief operating officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

Thanks to the Chinese market, Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has been on the rebound after suffering massive setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Chidzidzi.

The country witnessed a decline in visitor arrivals from 2.29 million in 2019 to 639,000 in 2020, and tourism revenue declined from 1.25 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 to 360 million dollars in 2020, according to him.

“Before the pandemic, Zimbabwe received 22,000 visitors from China in 2019, but this declined to 3,600 arrivals in 2020,” said Chidzidzi.

However, arrivals from China to Zimbabwe in 2022 reached 23,422, surpassing the number in 2019 and defying the continuing declining trend in tourist numbers in the current global market, he said.

“We are therefore excited about the coming back of organized groups like we are witnessing today, as it heralds a new recovery trajectory for tourism from China,” Chidzidzi said.

Chinese tourists from the tour group who spoke to Xinhua after their arrival were happy to be in Zimbabwe.

“I am very glad to be here in Zimbabwe, to the Victoria Falls again, it’s amazing,” said Shou Hongliang who was visiting Zimbabwe for the second time.

The Zimbabwean government has made a concerted effort to boost tourism, one of the critical sectors of its economy, by introducing a range of initiatives.