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CONFIDENCE in Victoria Falls ticked up in the past year, underpinned by improved global sentiment and rigorous efforts towards combating the COVID–19 scourge, a new survey has indicated.

The tourism promotion group, We are Victoria Falls, conducted the survey.

The survey, which said 74% of global booking agents were projecting inbound traffic to rise, provided a snapshot of data for the industry, the hardest hit since COVID–19-induced lockdowns exploded in 2020.

It said the 74% was ahead of 50% positive global sentiment in 2020 but still short of 85% in 2019, before COVID–19 turned the industry upside down, paralysing firms.

Future Traveller Sentiment Survey arrivals plummeted by 90% in 2020 as infections grounded global source markets.

Last month, the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe said Victoria Falls could turn into a ghost town unless travel restrictions were reviewed.

Restrictions have been relaxed and We are Victoria Falls sees tourists trooping back to one of southern Africa’s biggest destinations.

“Confidence in booking destination Victoria Falls has risen to 74% in 2021, according to the annual Future Traveller Sentiment Survey for 2021,” the survey said.

“This figure compares to 85% during the prepandemic year of 2019, and the slump of just 50% in 2020.

“Seventy-three percent of respondents to the survey believe it is now safe to travel to Victoria Falls and that robust rules on entry, pricing awareness, flexibility of terms and conditions and ease of access, including direct flights are key priority areas to accelerate recovery of tourism to the destination.

“According to international agents who responded to the survey, future travellers to Victoria Falls will be motivated by nature and travel in smaller groups.

“Travellers will be mainly older couples, multi-gen families and families with older children. Compared to the previous survey, agents predict growing preference for boutique hotels over safari-camps, and a move away from branded properties.

“The most marked developments from the previous year are an expected uptick in demand for wellness and gastronomy experiences,” the report added.

“One hundred percent of surveyed agents reported that connecting with nature will be most in demand; 80% predict a wilderness setting will be in demand, and 60% predict urban areas will be too, up from 45% in 2020.

“The newly-formed air access development committee has facilitated four new routes or frequencies to Victoria Falls in the last few months, including Lufthansa’s Eurowings Discover with its inaugural flight from Frankfurt touching down on 30th March 2022,” the report added.

Last month, Zimbabwe’s fastest-growing airline, fastjet, said it was determined to play a big role in reassembling the pieces of the broken industry, with key route launches into “high traffic” regional destinations.

fastjet, which adds new connections to South Africa this month before expanding into Maun, one of Botswana’s tourism backbones, has been buoyed by the relaxation of COVID–19-induced restrictions in Sadc’s prime destinations.

It hopes that the new swing into connecting Sadc’s leisure capitals would lift under-fire operators out of bankruptcy.

“We are thrilled to launch the new flights from Victoria Falls to Nelspruit’s, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in South Africa and from Victoria Falls to Maun Airport in Bostwana,”

fastjet spokesperson Nunurai Ndawana told our sister paper Standard Business.

“Effective 16 March, we will be launching flights from Victoria Falls to Mpumalanga, South Africa and 30 June it will be Victoria Falls to Maun in Botswana.

“These are tourism flights that are very exciting for the recovery of tourism in Zimbabwe and the region,” Ndawana said.

“These routes are key to the development of tourism in the region and are high traffic areas which are exciting to be linked together in terms of tourism in the region.”

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