By Staff reporter
TOURISM in Masvingo province is on a rebound with the Great Zimbabwe monuments alone recording 60 000 tourist arrivals since the beginning of 2018. National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) provincial director, Mr Lovemore Mandima, said the increase in tourist arrivals was a confirmation of Masvingo and the country at large’s hospitality.
He said the prevailing peace has also added impetus to the efforts to attract more tourists into the country. Mr Mandima attributed the rise in local tourist arrivals, especially by schools, to the new curriculum, which has introduced components of national heritage.
“Since January to date, a total of 61 676 tourists visited the Great Zimbabwe monuments almost beating the 2017 figure of 61 474 before the end of the year,” said Mr Mandima.
He said more tourists were expected to visit the the monuments this month compared to the year’s monthly average. Mr Mandima said from October to end of November, the monuments recorded more than 19 000 arrivals, marking a notable increase compared to the previous year.
“We had 1 854 local visitors including schools in October and 674 foreign before the figure increased to 2 156 in November for locals. In the same month we received 419 foreign tourists and 7 963 locals from schools. We have already received 5 438 non-resident visitors compared to 6 446 arrivals we got the whole of last year,” said Mr Mandima.
He said the Great Zimbabwe monument was likely to atttract more visitors after its facelift being funded to the tune of US$475 000 by the US government.
The grant meant to fund the restoration of the structures at the heritage site, was recently signed by the United States Ambassador, Mr Brain Nichols on behalf of his government. Apart from restoring some of the falling structures, the grant will also fund the upgrading of the security systems, combat the destructive herb, lantana camara and fund training of workers on how to preserve the monuments.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke, has said Zimbabwe is targeting to attract at least three million foreign visitors this year after the country saw more than 2,4 million tourists, mainly from South Africa, visiting the country in the year 2017.