How the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy is boosting tourism in Polokwane
A recent study by Mastercard showed that Polokwane received 1.88 million visitors last year, whilst Cape Town received 1.73 million. Cape Town obviously generated more revenue, because most of it visitors are high-spending international visitors who stay for more than one night. Polokwane on the other hand, received such record numbers because of Zimbabwean visitors. According to the study by Mastercard, 77,7% of the 1.88 million visitors to Polokwane were from Zimbabwe. That’s 1,46 million Zimbabweans! While those unfamiliar with the situation in Zimbabwe will find this puzzling, a quick look at the economic situation will make it very obvious why.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a very severe economic crisis, with prices of food sky-rocketing, and fuel becoming more scarce by the day. A trip to South Africa means one can buy groceries more cheaply, and can do their shopping at more reasonable prices. Business people can also hoard from South Africa, to come and sell at a premium back home. The nature of such trips is that they are usually a day or two long. So the actual spend in accommodation establishments will be low. And due to its proximity to the border post, Polokwane is an obvious choice for the Zimbabwean traveller looking for a city to do their shopping.
While the cause of the boom in visitors is unfortunate, the province of Limpopo is sure to enjoy this influx of visitors in the coming years if the situation remains the same. It is, however, sad that all that foreign currency is being spent outside the country, at a time when the nation of Zimbabwe needs it the most.