TOURISM SECTOR POISED FOR GROWTH
Government has identified projects and programmes to sustain growth in the tourism sector as part of the 100-day targeted plan driven by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Briefing stakeholders in the tourism industry on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Tourism Support Facility in Harare on Friday, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mrs Prisca Mupfumira said the ministry had come up with four key programmes, which include the development of a national tourism strategy.
The new $15 million support facility, which is expected to complement rebates on the import of safari vehicles and capital goods in the tourism sector, will have a bias towards small and medium-sized businesses in the industry.
It will also target women and youths.
“As Government, we seek to achieve the empowerment of our people through tourism to ensure it becomes a real tool for poverty eradication. In doing so, Government, through my ministry, will ensure that this facility is extended to smaller players in the tourism sector, including those intending to enter mainstream tourism business,” Minister Mupfumira said.
Government has since outlined its plans for the key sector.
“While tourism plays a major role in the economic well-being of Zimbabwe, there is often no coordination of policies across sectors to enable tourism growth. Chief among the challenges affecting tourism growth are limited international air access, inadequate internal airline connectivity, poor state of roads in tourism resorts and a non-competitive tourism product that is not only overpriced but old and tired,” she said.
“The main objective of the National Tourism Sector Strategy is to harness and coordinate all efforts for holistic tourism development in Zimbabwe to ensure a shared vision for tourism development.”
Consultative workshops with agencies, tourism associations, civil society and tourists will be held from February 1 to February 8 to gather as many views as possible.
“We will set up a robust communication strategy for this purpose, which will include enabling various stakeholders to reach us through provincial tourism offices, through email, our websites and written inputs to the ministry. The strategy is very important in shaping the future of tourism, hence the need to consult widely,” she said.
An intensified awareness campaign on the country’s tourist attractions will he held to promote domestic tourism.
Minister Mupfumira said: “Under this programme, the 10 publicity associations run by local authorities countrywide will be rebranded into tourism information centres.
“My ministry, through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, will provide them with grants to fund regional marketing plans. We will also work closely with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing in conducting training to ensure these publicity associations are well capacitated to promote tourism development.”
Government is also pushing for the establishment of a national tourism facilitation committee, whose aim is to identify the main reasons affecting travel.
“As you are all aware, in the past the nation had to deal with the incessant cry of harassment of tourists at police roadblocks. I wish to congratulate the Minister of Home Affairs, who, true to his word, has attended to this problem. However, beyond this challenge, we have many other challenges we ought to be engaging on.”
It is believed that Government will also attend to the current challenge where it has become difficult for travel agencies to remit money owed to foreign airlines as a result of foreign currency shortages.
The debt has risen to $50 million.
A National Tourism Satellite Account, which is a United Nations World Tourism Organisation prescribed tool for measuring the contribution of tourism to the economy, will also be established.
Minister Mupfumira encouraged unregistered operators to regularise their operations as they were prejudicing compliant businesses.