A survey of the Victoria Falls with a view to repositioning this key tourist attraction in Zimbabwe.
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This study looks at the ailing Zimbabwean tourism industry and efforts to reverse the negative trend in tourist arrivals. Despite this sector of the economy enjoying positive growth both globally and at a regional level, the local industry had been adversely affected by negative perceptions about the country. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), whose mission is to professionally market Zimbabwe as a leading tourist destination, has embarked on various initiatives. Unfortunately however, the organisation has enjoyed limited success in recapturing the demand experienced in the years prior to 1999. In order to investigate other avenues to pursue, this study sought the perspectives of two major stakeholders of the local tourism industry. These were namely "buyers" comprising the international tourist, who were probed for their motivations in selecting a holiday destination. In addition, local "suppliers" to the sector who interface directly with the international traveller, were asked to give their perspective on the performance of the ZTA in fulfilling its mission. Personal interviews were conducted in the resort town of Victoria Falls. This area was chosen over other attractions in Zimbabwe because our neighbouring competitors, South Africa and Zambia have promoted the resort for their own benefit, at the expense of the local industry. Another reason is the worldwide recognition and appeal of the attraction, owing to its historical significance. The study established that the resort still enjoys immense popularity, with international visitors opting to return several times in order to gaze at the scenic wonder. However, since the falls lack a truly Zimbabwean identity or image, travel agents and tour operators have either channeled tourist to the Zambian side or flown them in via South Africa as day visitors. The resultant effect has been minimal financial benefit to Zimbabwe by way of receipts from tourist expenditure. Adopting a co-operative strategic orientation with these neighbouring countries is recommended. At a local level the study found that the local tourism industry lacked a unified approach in tackling the challenges facing sector.