The Sunday Mail
Government began consultations last week aimed at reviving tourist arrivals and activity in the resort town of Kariba, which has over the years been slowly losing its lustre.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira led a Government delegation, which also included officials from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), into the increasingly sleepy town on a fact- finding mission.
Kariba has unique attractions such as game viewing, bird watching and fishing, which are anchored around the world’s largest man-made lake , Kariba Dam.
Before the turn of the millennium, Kariba used to have about 15 000 arrivals annually, but the figure has been gradually plummeting, resulting in foreign room occupancy of 7 and 4 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Overall, occupancy was at 43 percent and 44 percent for 2017 and 2018 respectively, a situation that has now jolted Government into action as it seeks to re-position the town to play a role in the country’s tourism revival in line with Vision 2030.
Tourism, agriculture and mining are largely expected to play a major role towards the attainment of this vision.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business on Friday, ZTA head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti said Government and the tourism authority are soliciting for stakeholder input on what measures the authorities can come up with in order to awaken Kariba.
“Kariba is host to the world’s largest man-made lake and ideally we expect it to be one of the country’s major tourists destinations but this has not been the case,” said Mr Koti.
“Contrary to expectation, we have seen a situation whereby even our own national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, suspending connecting flights between Kariba, Harare and our biggest destination, the Victoria Falls
“So the meetings that we are having, of course led by our Minister Honourable Mupfumira, are expected to help strategise on ways and interventions, which we hope will result in the reawakening of this giants and it playing a crucial role to the country’s overall the tourism sector,” he said.
Government has designated Kariba as a tourism development zone to speedily revive the town’s fortunes.
The revival is also supported by Government’s economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), through which Government seeks to build a foundation for Vision 2030 as it prioritises support for aggressive marketing and rebranding of Zimbabwe. Efforts are underway to facilitate tourism arrivals by taking advantage of the country’s diverse tourist attractions. This also hinges on provision of incentive packages and the relaxation of restrictive visa requirements.
Government has so far upgraded visitors from at least 25 countries from category C visitors (visa before travel) to category B (visa on arrival).