Home Tourist Attractions Decline in Tourism Causes of the Decline Consequences of the decline
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"Tourism is not very high here at present for obvious political reasons. No one wants to come where there is trouble and no food in the shops etc. Hunting (which is also part of tourism and keeps the National Parks going) is doing better since the relationship between client and Operator is more personal, but the Photographic (Safari) tourism is very much down." - Sally Bown, Manager of SOAZ (Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe - quote taken from personal correspondence)

One of the major causes for this decline in Zimbabwean tourism is the Land Requisition Act and the invasions of white-owned farms.  These were often violent and forced farmers who had lived there for generations off their land without any compensation.  Between 2000 and 2001, 8 white farmers were murdered and a negative portrayal of the social and political crisis in Zimbabwe by western news reports discouraged tourists from visiting, both out of disgust for the government’s policies and for fear for their own lives.  It was reported that tourists in the Victoria Falls area were harassed and threatened. 

The seizures of the white-owned farms also contributed to the destruction of 83% of wildlife conservatories on these farms, which used to be privately owned.  White owned farmers often laid aside land on their farms for wildlife to prosper, and with the take-over this land has been delegated to subsistence farming and farms have also been badly looted.  This raised conservational issues concerning wildlife being cut off from their natural habitat.  This lessened the opportunity for tourists to be able to experience sub-Saharan wildlife in Zimbabwe without having to pay for lodgings at the generally expensive designated resorts and decreased the amount of tourists who were not so wealthy but previously had the chance to see this wildlife and go on safari within a farm.

Looted Farm - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_politics/1504306.stm

In 1999, the Movement For Democratic Change (MDC), the major opponent to the ZANU PF ruling party, was founded and challenged their political and economic decisions, which would later drive Zimbabwe closer to its ruin.  ZANU PF was fearful of losing power and spawned much politically motivated violence and human rights abuses.  About 30 members of the MDC were murdered in 2000 and this increased Zimbabwe’s reputation of being an unsafe destination as well as an undemocratic society.

MDC Opponent wounded at Rally Taken From - http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/date/2007/02/

The economic problems in Zimbabwe are also a factor contributing to the decline in tourism.  After the take over of the Zimbabwean farms by the so called “war vets”, foreign currency shortages and inflation became prevalent.  This was due to the fact that the new farmers did not have the equipment or the knowledge to grow large scale crops, like tobacco and wheat, for export and stuck to subsistence farming.  The foreign currency shortage and inflation led to a fuel shortage, which caused the deterioration of tourism facilities, such as hotels and lodges, making them less attractive to tourists.  Lately the inflation, in combination with government attempts to keep prices much lower than they should be, has had an effect on basic survival items such as water and food.  Generally tourists do not want to go to a country, where it is difficult to find these necessities.

Empty Supermarket Shelves taken From - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/18/2037004.htm?section=world

A huge blow to tourism in Zimbabwe was the withdrawal of several airlines due to both disgust at human rights abuses and most airlines stated the fact that it was no longer economically feasible.  This gave tourists who wished to visit fewer options for travelling to Zimbabwe.  Most do not wish to fly Air Zimbabwe as it is unreliable and sometimes dangerous to do so.  Airlines that have pulled out include Qantas, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air and KLM, hindering tourism from these countries.  A particular blow to Zimbabwean tourism happened in October 2007, when British Airways decided to pull out.  This was especially devastating to tourism, as in the 1990, most of Zimbabwe’s visitors came from England and Ireland.  In November 2007, Zambian Airlines, Zimbabwe’s own neighbor pulled out, increasing the blow to potential tourism.  Other African airline services such as Ethiopian Airlines have also considered pulling out.

Sad Elephant!