By Tendai Makoni
Modelling and forecasting of tourist arrivals at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Victoria Falls Rainforest, is critical to the tourism industry and economy of Zimbabwe.
For a developing country like Zimbabwe, the tourism industry is a major contributor to the country’s economic growth as it brings in foreign currency and creates employment, apart from being the major contributor to the country’s infrastructure development.
The tourism industry is a significant contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP), foreign currency reserves, and tourism receipts of the country.Therefore, accurate tourist forecasts for the Victoria Falls Rainforest will help in projecting the expected foreign currency likely to be injected into the country by each tourist destination.
Accurate tourism forecast gives valuable insight into future tourist arrivals and is useful to tourism planners. Quantitative techniques (statistical methods) will help with accurate tourist arrivals forecasting that will shade more light on seasonality and other patterns of tourist arrivals.
Misleading judgmental methods (with little scientific basis) which are used to predict future tourist arrivals result in high accommodation costs and few recreation facilities in most tourism resort centres in Zimbabwe.
The problems of not getting enough investors, inadequate accommodation, ICT facilities, and transport in most tourist destination towns, and in Zimbabwe in particular, impact on the Zimbabwean economy as a whole. All this can be alleviated once there are statistical tourist arrival models capable of forecasting future tourist arrivals accurately.
Potential investors, tourism managers and tourism policy makers depend on accurate tourism forecasts. A statistical model was developed for the Victoria Falls Rainforest and was used to project future tourist arrivals. The projections from the model indicated a positive upward trend, hence, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) may start planning to have enough facilities (accommodation, transport, ICT, etc.) to cater for increased arrivals.
Investors, tourism managers and the government can make use of such results in order to find effective and efficient solutions to the investment, foreign currency, accommodation, transport and infrastructure development problems and other tourist-related challenges faced by Zimbabweans.