Traveling to Harare – Perspectives From a Resident

Harare is Zimbabwe’s capital with a population of over 2 million people. Zimbabwe itself is a landlocked country which has a total of 13 million people. As would be known by many, Zimbabwe has been in serious political and economic difficulties in the last decade and a half. By way of background, until 2009 things had taken a negative turn in Zimbabwe. It was about 2009 that a political settlement was finally arrived at by major contenders. Since then the economy of Zimbabwe has been on the mend albeit slowly.Since the economic upturn, focus has once again started returning to the country with a positive outlook. Many airlines that had pulled out have since started returning. This sustained return of different airlines after having pulled out is a positive sign of better days to come. More importantly, it is an indication that confidence in the traveler is returning. The country’s immigration department has noted a spike in arrivals from a cross section of travelers according to nationality. This increase in arrivals is confirmed for both air and road travelers.Business travelers to Zimbabwe mostly touch down in Harare. Holiday travelers are still predominantly visiting the Victoria Falls some 1000kms away from Harare. Access to Victoria Falls is by road as well as through air using Victoria Falls International Airport. For those coming to Harare accommodation is an important consideration. After years if stagnation, hotels in Harare appear to be on a rebound. Many of then have invested millions of United States dollars into the refurbishment of their respective rooms. Occupancy rates have also significantly picked-up.Many travel and hospitality enthusiasts in Zimbabwe have seen an opportunity and opened lodges. This means Harare has seen the sprouting of upmarket lodges designed for the business traveler. Many of the lodges are now in direct competition with long established but economically dented hotels. A major challenge has also emerged alongside this positive outcome. The upmarket lodges are generally expensive. This means business and even leisure travelers to Harare will need to prepare to face generally high accommodation fees.Utility supplies has also been an issue around Harare. This refers to water and electricity. Whilst things have improved and continue to improve this will remain a major concern for travelers used to uninterrupted availability of these basics. Security in Harare on the most part remained positive even during the political and economic troubles. This means it is generally very safe even today to move about in Harare. However, tourists as usual will need to take precaution as they can easily become targets of petty or even more serious crime. As relations with western countries such as Europe and the United States and Canada improve, Harare will likely become a bustling tourist city once again.