The figures for 2015 for the Tourism Statistical Digest that are out and reveal interesting facts about out budding sector.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported that tourists travelling the world in 2015 had increased to 1,184 million, reflecting a 4.4 percent growth compared to 2014 that stood at 1,134 million tourists. By region, Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific all recorded around 5 percent growth while arrivals to the Middle East increased by 1.6 percent and Africa recorded an estimated decline of 2.9 percent.
Africa recorded approximately 53 million tourist arrival from the total of 1,184 million arrivals traveling the world representing 4.5 percent of the total arrival.
Zambia recorded a total of 931,782 international tourists arrivals in 2015 compared to 946,969 tourists in 2014 resulting in a decline of 1.6 percent. Out of the 53.3 million international tourists’ arrivals to Africa, Zambia received only 1.7 percent of the total tourists’ arrivals in Africa.
Business tourists were dominant under the purpose of visit category, contributing 54 percent and holiday/leisure was second at 25 percent. However, these categories had a high number of tourist arrivals, there was a decline for leisure/holiday tourist from 249,501 in 2014 to 235,235 in 2015 representing a decrease of 5.7 percent and business tourists reduced from 506,054 tourists in 2014 to 499,584 in 2015 which translated to 1.3 percent decline. On the other hand, there was an increase in conference arrivals from 21,013 in 2014 to 22,902 in 2015 representing an increase of 9 percent.
By gender, the total number of tourist arrivals comprised 548,431 males and 383,351 females, representing 59 percent and 41 percent respectively.
From Africa, Zambia recorded 710,062 tourists’ arrivals accounting for 76.2 percent of total international tourist arrivals followed by Europe which contributed 88,554 tourists representing 9.5 percent. Americas contributed 5.3 percent of the total arrivals. Asia contributed 7.7 percent whilst Australia contributed 1.3 percent to the total arrivals
The major mode of transport used by tourists was by road representing 70.1 percent and the least was water representing 0.3 percent.
The top ten(10) overseas holiday markets for 2015 were United States of America (38,496), United Kingdom (36,997), India (25,517), China (20,648), Australia (10,193), Japan (8,742), Germany (8,025), Canada (6,310), France (4,861) and Italy (4,165). African top ten(10) holiday markets included Zimbabwe (225,527) ranked first and Mozambique (8,242) in tenth position.
The total number of tourist visits to the five (5) national parks inclusive of Lusaka Park was 101, 972. Comparatively of the four major national parks namely South Luangwa, Kafue, Lower Zambezi and Mosi-oa-Tunya; tourist visits still increased from 81, 962 in 2014 to 88,707 in 2015 representing 8.2 percent increase when adjusted without Lusaka Park figures. South Luangwa National Park had the highest number of tourists at 43, 653 while Lower Zambezi National Park recorded the least tourists at 9,011.
The Victoria Falls, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and Zambia’s flagship tourism product, recorded 141,929 tourists compared to 152,798 tourists in 2014, representing a drop of 7.7 percent. International tourists dropped from 45,303 in 2014 to 29,575 in 2015 representing a decline of 34.7 percent while domestic tourists increased from 108,487 in 2014 to 112,354 in 2015 representing an increase of 3.6 percent.
The total number of tourists that visited the national museums in 2014 was 82,943 compared to 90,351 in 2015 representing an increase of 8.9 percent. Domestic tourists accounted for 90 percent of the total visitors to the museums while international tourists accounted for 10 percent.
During the year under review, the total number of rooms available was 43,119 as compared to 42,932 in 2014, representing an increase of 0.4 percent. The 2015 national annual average room occupancy rate increased from 61.9 percent in 2014 to 69.8 percent in 2015 while the national annual average bed occupancy rate during the year under review was 71.4 percent compared 72.2 percent in 2014. The increase in room occupancy rate could be attributed to increase in domestic tourism activities and Meeting Incentives Conferencing and Exhibitions (MICE). The average length of stay reduced to four (4) days in 2015 as compared to five and half days (5.5) days in 2014.
The number of people employed in the hospitality industry during the year under review was 57,384 compared 57,003 in 2014 recording an increase of 0.7 percent. Southern Province recorded a high number of employees accounting for 22,872 employees in the hospitality industry while Northern Province had the least record of employees at 836.
The annual tourism earnings increased from K3, 945,710,713.08 in 2014 to K4, 408, 160,075.42 in 2015 representing an increase of 11.38 percent. However, the annual tourism earning, when converted to the United States Dollars dropped by 34.9% from US$616 million in 2014 to US$ 401 million in 2015. The reduction in earnings is mainly attributed to the depreciation of the kwacha against the US dollars.
Accommodation establishments’ earnings for 2015 were ZMW 4,003,943,049.62 compared to ZMW 3,653,232,709.51 in 2014 representing an increase of 9.6 percent.