In emailed responses to NewsDay, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke, said the local tourism industry was expected to continue growing despite numerous challenges besetting it.
"The tourism industry in Zimbabwe is expected to continue growing in line with global trends, which project that tourism will continue to be the fastest growing economic sector internationally. Arrivals in Zimbabwe are estimated to reach over 2,2 million by the close of 2017 and over 2,5 million by 2020, assuming the current conditions will continue to obtain," he said.
"However, it should be noted that history has shown that the tourism sector tends to be affected negatively by the election year. As such, it is our hope that prospects for 2018 will remain positive despite it being an election year."
Zimbabwe will hold general elections next year.
Kaseke said although the tourism sector has faced a number of challenges in recent years, the sector has been resilient.
For instance, in 2016, the country received 2 167 686 tourist arrivals, 5% up from 2 056 588 received in 2015, he said.
He said the sector also generated an estimated $819 million in revenue in 2016 and is estimated to contribute 10,9% to the gross domestic product.
Kaseke lamented that numerous police check points and roadblocks have for a long time tarnished the country's image, as they project a negative security situation. "These roadblocks have also resulted in highly prejudicing and inconveniencing the tourists. These have also been raised under Ease of Doing Business reform initiatives in tourism," he said.
Kaseke said Zimbabwe was largely a driving destination and, as such, good roads were necessary. Apart from the Plumtree-Mutare Highway, Kaseke said other roads — particularly Beitbridge-Harare — need to be rebuilt.
"Because of the bad state of this road, Zimbabwe lost a huge market of self-drive tourists from South Africa who are now preferring Botswana and Namibia. The high levels of carnage on our roads now termed "death traps" inhibit travel by both domestic and international tourists," he said.