Domestic tourism suffering

The domestic tourism market has all but collapsed due to rising poverty and a depletion of disposable income, an economic analyst has said.

Eric Bloch told The Zimbabwean that poverty had rendered domestic tourism an unattainable goal for most families and individuals.

“Most people just haven’t got the money. They are struggling to take care of the bare essentials,” he said.

Uncertainty over elections affected the country’s economic prospects. After the polls, when Zanu (PF) was announced the winner, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange shed more than $1 billion in value.

Bloch said in the absence of any positive developments on the economic front Zimbabweans would continue to be spectators of tourism. “Until the economy improves, domestic tourism is likely to remain depressed,” he said.

Some analysts, however, expect tourism to grow by about seven percent a year over the next 10 years.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has tried a variety of strategies aimed at increasing the number of Zimbabweans visiting local tourist sites. Some of the proposed ideas include group holidays, improving access to loans from banks on holiday packages and encouraging school trips.

According to statistics from the ZTA, the country recorded a 17 percent increase in international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of the year with all major markets registering increases. Tourist arrivals rose from 346,299 visitors recorded in the first quarter of 2012 to 404,282 in the corresponding period in 2013.

Meanwhile, Bloch said the demand for insurance services continued to decline and penetration levels were below most countries in the region due to low income levels.

Nicoz Diamond Insurance Limited recently said in its half year financial statements that affordability was the biggest factor affecting clients.

“Low disposable incomes have continued to result in reduced demand for insurance services. Clients are fully aware of the need for insurance but are only taking up basic cover,” a statement from Nicoz Diamond reads.

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