HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Sunday he hopes his country’s tourism industry will get a boost from the football World Cup in neighbouring South Africa.
“With the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, it is government’s hope that tourism will receive another boost for its total recovery towards being a major contributor to the country’s economic growth,” Mugabe told thousands of Zimbabweans gathered at the National Sports Stadium for the country’s 30th independence celebrations.
He said Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is showing signs of recovery.
“In 2009 the sector generated an estimated amount of 522 million dollars, contributing 6.5 percent to the gross domestic product,” Mugabe said.
The southern African country is expecting to host some 100,000 foreign nationals during the month-long World Cup, mostly South Africans looking to escape the drama surrounding the tournament.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has taken a beating as a result of the country’s ongoing political and economic woes.
Tourist arrivals plunged from 1.4 million in 2000 to 223,000 in 2008, as several countries in Asia and the West issued travel warnings against going to Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean government has said it hopes to cash in on South African visitors who have no interest in sport and those who are renting their homes to foreign visitors.
South Africa is expecting hundreds of thousands of foreign football fans for Africa’s first World Cup, which runs from June 11 to July 11.