Story by Gay Matambo
THE country’s tourism recovery plan is on course as tourists continue to throng the Lowveld, which is home to the wildlife-rich Gonarezhou National Park.
The Lowveld is also home to the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.
The area is benefiting from the tourism industry’s turnaround efforts, with Gonarezhou Conservation Trust Senior Reservationist, Mr Clemence Mavasa revealing that there was a 42-percent increase in tourist arrivals at Gonarezhou National Park within a year.
The performance is being reinforced by domestic tourism which contributed 95 percent of tourism business in the country last year.
“If we are to compare in terms of percentages, there was a five percent increase between 2019 and 2021 and a 42 percent increase between 2021 and 2022. If we are to compare pre-COVID-19 and 2022, we have seen a 13 percent increase in terms of domestic tourism which is very encouraging given that Gonarezhou is a National Park,” he said.
It has emerged that Buffalo Range Airport, which is the gateway for most international tourists who visit the Lowveld area, recorded an annual increase of 78 percent in private aircraft movement and a 13 percent increase in passenger movement last year.
“There was actually an improvement from the 2019 figures as compared to the 2022 figures as most of the tourists were passing through our airport to places like Singita Pamushana in Malilangwe and to Gonarezhou National Park. Some were also going to the Save Valley Conservancies and most were connecting through Johannesburg, hence most of them were international travellers,” said Mr Stanley Chigwada, Buffalo Range airport manager.
The National Tourism Recovery Plan is anchored on the country’s vision to be a prime tourist destination based on sustainable exploitation of unique natural and historic heritage.