The number of tourists who visited Zimbabwe during the first six months of the year went up by 17 percent from 637,389 last year to 767,939, the African Development Bank has said.
According to the AfDB monthly economic review for Zimbabwe for October, most of the tourists came from African market.
“Zimbabwe received a total of 675,721 tourists from Africa, reflecting a 19 percent increase from 2011.
“The European market is second, contributing 40,915 tourists (an 18 percent increase compared to the same period last year),” it said.
In the European market, the United Kingdom remains the main source, supplying 26 percent of tourists from Europe.
The Middle East supplies the least number of tourists, contributing 1,466 although this was a 36 percent decrease compared to 2011 statistics.
Meanwhile, the AfDB said mid-year hotel room occupancy also increased slightly from 38 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2012.
The tourism sector in Zimbabwe is still facing challenges which include lack of funding to support marketing the destination image and dilapidated hospitality infrastructure.
Other challenges include shortages of water and electricity, inner city decay, which is undermining destination image, poor road networks and low disposable income for the domestic market.
Also, there have been no direct flights to cities and major tourist destinations like the Victoria Falls.
The AfDB however anticipates that the introduction of new airlines, such as Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airline, Air Botswana and Mozambique Airlines would facilitate tourism growth ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly.
Zimbabwe and Zambia won the bid to co-host the 2013 UNWTO Assembly, to be held in Victoria Falls and Livingstone respectively, beating Russia, Turkey, Jordan and Qatar.
The General Assembly is the supreme organ of the UNWTO and its ordinary sessions, held every two years, are attended by delegates from full and associate members, as well as representatives from the business council.
The event will bring 186 countries to the Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
It will be the largest world gathering of countries in Zimbabwe since the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting held in the resort town, about two decades ago.