Amanda Mlevu, Sunday News Reporter
THE Hwange National Park has recorded more than 30 000 tourist visits from January to August this year, an increase of 7000 from the 23 000 received during the same period last year, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has said.
The increase has been attributed to a number of developments that Zimparks and its partners have been carrying in the park. ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the increase saying more visitors were expected to come as the year moves towards its end characterised by festive holiday spending.
“We have recorded an increase in tourist arrivals in the Hwange National Park since the beginning of the year. When we look at the figures recorded last year, we received nearly 23000 visitors from January to August but this year we received 30000 tourists, an addition of 7000 visitors and that is no mean improvement. We are looking forward to receiving more as we enter the festive season,” said Mr Farawo.
He said the increase was a result of the improvements that have been carried out in the main camp and the introduction of other activities that were amusing to visitors.
“The increase is attributable to the work that we have done at the main camp. We have successfully refurbished some of the lodges with the help of some of our partners who are into wildlife and tourism. The positive figures are a testimony of the work done, and we will continue working hard to improve our parks for the benefit of its customers,” he said.
Mr Farawo said resources available, they would continue introducing more activities so that customers would have more options as they strive to ensure they get the best service.
“We have also acquired a game drive vehicle which is permanently stationed at the main camp, so this is helping us get more customers as some tourists are interested in game drive and viewing animals within our vast Hwange National Park,” he said.
Zimbabwe has identified tourism as one of the central pillars of the National Development Strategy, (NDS1).
The sector is the country’s third largest foreign currency earner after mining and agriculture and holds vast potential in the country’s economic recovery plan.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe increased by a roaring 51, 5% in the first quarter of the year signaling significant recoveries in one of the country’s highest earning economic sectors.
Apart from a relatively good climate and relatively peaceful environment, Zimbabwe boasts of several national parks and attractions such as Hwange, Mana Pools, and Gonarezhou National Parks, Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, and the Great Zimbabwe National Monument. Mr Farawo said they would continue to do more in terms of ensuring the general upkeep of the parks and introducing activities that would motivate more customers.