Rutendo Nyeve, Business Reporter
AN influx of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) has seen Bulawayo having the highest growth in average hotel room occupancy, resulting in the city surpassing traditional tourism destination cities like Victoria Falls and Masvingo.
MICE as a tourism strategy have been identified as one of the remedies in the recovery of the sector from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to January to September 2022 tourism performance highlights that were compiled by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), the percentage point change in average room occupancies in Bulawayo stood at 31 percent followed by Victoria Falls with 24 percent and Masvingo 22 percent.
During the nine months under review, the city held major events like the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, Mine Entra and Sanganai/Hlanganani tourism expo.
“Growth in average room occupancies for Bulawayo continued to be propped by MICE activities which saw the province hosting 1 070 events which attracted 62 166 participants.
Government agencies and NGOs continued to dominate the MICE business in this region. All the regions in the country recorded positive results denoted by double digit growths except for Beitbridge which remains with suppressed average room occupancies.
The national average room occupancy level landed at 42 percent in 2022, consolidating an overall 21 percentage point growth during the period under review,” reads the report. Of the total number of rooms occupied in Bulawayo, 95 percent were locals with five percent being foreigners while for Victoria Falls, 51 percent were locals with 49 percent being foreigners.
ZTA also noted that growth in average occupancies in Bulawayo also emanated from the diaspora market based especially in South Africa who usually visit during the public holidays.
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