SUBJECT to the vagaries of access, particularly air access, and the unpredictability of the
COVID-19 pandemic, Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) projects possible growth in tourism numbers to the Victoria Falls region of between 6% and 10% on pre-pandemic levels over the next 12 months.
“There is so much to see, do, experience, share and learn in the region,” said CEO of AAT, Ross Kennedy, adding that the wildlife
was diverse and there were several conservation programmes in place to ensure the sustainability of this valuable resource.
“The friendly and hospitable people and the vibrant cultures of the region are also a huge attraction for visitors,” he added. Sales Director of Sense of Africa,
South Africa, Suzanne Benadie, is equally optimistic. She told Tourism Update: “We are confident of recovery over the next two years, which many will view as year-on-year growth.”According to her, growth may be driven by new strategies in
markets, new targeted segments of markets and the uptake of pent-up demand for travel. “Many of our guests want to include the Victoria Falls region in their Southern Africa tours.”
Kennedy noted that AAT was seeing interest, and was receiving enquiries and bookings from a wider source base. “This includes South America and some new European markets – although the Ukraine/Russia issue has slowed that.” AAT has also noticed that post-COVID, travellers were extending their stay in the region.
He pointed out that the tourism industry could leverage these opportunities for growth by re-envisioning the guest experience, refreshing the products and properties and enhancing and developing more guest/community interactions.
“It’s also about slowing the pace down and encouraging guests to genuinely absorb and value their experiences,” he highlighted.
Benadie said while opportunities abounded, there remained some challenges to growth.
“We need more alignment and clarity on entry regulations for the SADC region. Often announcements are made, yet the implementation on the ground differs from these announcements.” She said this caused delays and uncertainty, which discouraged people from travelling.
Kennedy agreed with Benadie that improved air access to the region would spur growth, as would investment by governments in ports of entry, IT, training and reduced bureaucracy.
He further suggested that investment in incentives to encourage growth in arrivals, and thus increase employment, would be welcomed.