President Mnangagwa has said that the $500 million allocated to the tourism sector under the $18 billion Covid-19 stimulus package is “paltry” and directed the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to review it.
The President, who was in Victoria Falls where he officially launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy on Thursday, said developing a sound tourism infrastructure was capital intensive hence the need for increased support for the sector.
He also noted that the tourism and hospitality sector has a key role as one of the four economic pillars of the economy alongside agriculture, mining and manufacturing. On average the sector accounts for nearly US$1 billion forex receipts annually and employs thousands of people along the value chain.
However, the Covid-19 outbreak early this year has severely crippled tourism operations, leaving scores of businesses mainly small scale facilities on the brink of collapse, as local and foreign guest arrivals suddenly dropped. The situation warrants increased Government support in order to cushion the affected operators and help save jobs, said the President.
“We have the Minister of Finance here,” he said, pointing to Prof Mthuli Ncube who sat on the front row during the official launch of the US$8 million Mbano Manor Hotel.
“So, you have the opportunity of advancing the type of incentives we will want to see.
“In his $18 billion rescue package he only gave a paltry $500 million to the sector. I am sure after seeing this he can review that,” said President Mnangagwa amid applause from the tourism stakehodlers.
Prof Ncube nodded in agreement with the President’s sentiments.
President Mnangagwa also pledged continued Government commitment in supporting the tourism sector through measures such as tax incentives and streamlining business approval processes as part of the broader ease of doing business reforms.
“I urge all tourism players to be innovative in their tourist target markets to facilitate quick rescuscitation and growth of the sector.
“The tourism industry should also be keen on developing in such a way that the local communities are empowered,” he said.
Given the country’s vast natural and historical heritage sites the tourism sector alone is expected to achieve the US$5 billion economy by 2025 inspired by the national drive towards an upper middle-income economy by 2030. This requires local companies to come up with high quality and competitive bids that will compete regionally and internationally.