HARARE, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe received 352,719 tourist arrivals in the first half of the year, up 115 percent from 164,062 tourist arrivals the country had during the same period last year, according to Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.
He said tourism is on a growth trajectory following the relaxation of COVID-19-induced travel restrictions and lockdowns, with tourist receipts increasing by 121 percent in the first months of the year to 337.5 million U.S. dollars, compared to 152.8 million dollars during the same period last year.
Ndlovu, whose portfolio also covers tourism, said domestic entries into national parks rose 90 percent from 90,909 in 2021 to 172,481 during the January-May period this year, The Herald, a state-owned daily newspaper, quoted Ndlovu as saying, Thursday.
A 79 percent increase in new investments in the sector worth 96.5 million U.S. dollars was also registered during the first half of this year, the minister said.
"I am happy that the tourism sector is now on a growth trajectory due to the relaxation of COVID-19 induced travel restrictions and lockdowns, and the opening of doors for both domestic and international travel," Ndlovu said. "Let us take advantage of this phase to work with all stakeholders to design and offer competitive products and services in order to attract more tourists to Zimbabwe."
He said tourism was one of the critical sectors of the economy with great potential to turn around the economy.
Zimbabwe is aiming to achieve a 5-billion-U.S.-dollar tourism economy by 2025.
"It is my hope that as we are emerging from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken a closer look at the national tourism recovery and growth strategy to assess our targets, our strategies and that we are identifying areas that need more emphasis for us to meet and possibly surpass the initial targets," he said.
Zimbabwe's recorded 380,820 tourist arrivals in 2021, a 40 percent decline from 639,356 in 2020, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. ■