The Sunday Mail
Considerable dividends have begun to accrue to Zimbabwe as Government and the private sector continue to ratchet up efforts to promote Zimbabwe as a safe destination. The tourism sector has since grossed more than the targeted $1 billion this year, up from the $967 million realised last year.
Government is confident earnings from the industry will double next year.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira told The Sunday Mail last week that this year’s arrivals, at 2,7 million, rose the most in 19 years.
She said plans are underway to increase the momentum by bidding to host major international events.
“In 2018, we have been targeting $1 billion in revenue and I am happy to say that we have surpassed that target.
“On arrivals, we have reached 2,7 million . . . We are confident that the new year will be even better if we do our things properly. . .
“I don’t see any reason why we cannot double those figures. For that to happen, we need enablers; that’s the major issue,” said Minister Mupfumira.
As part of the concerted push to increase earnings from the industry, which is regarded as a low-hanging fruit, Government is currently bidding to host a global indaba on environment, including the highly regarded Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF).
AHIF is a reputed hotel investment conference that connects business leaders from the international and local markets, driving investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across Africa.
“We need to push for investment in resort areas to make sure that we have capacity.
‘‘Recently, we had technical people who came from Africa Hotel Investment Forum to asses if we have capacity to host big conferences,” said Minister Mupfumira.
Next year Government will concentrate on creating products for local tourists.
“A lot of our people don’t enjoy our nature, our God-given experiences. There is the issue of pricing which we will be working on, especially our national parks,” she said.
Focus will also be on promoting cultural tourism and cultural villages in every province for visitors to feel the Zimbabwe’s cultural flavour.
Furthermore, various Government ministries, agencies and departments will also be working to ensure easy access and connectivity to local tourist destinations.
“We also have an issue of connectivity, which has become a real challenge for us. We will be working on what we can do to make sure that people are moved directly from Victoria Falls to Kariba and to Harare within a day.
“So we will be working closely with the Ministry of Transport (and Infrastructure Development) to see how we can connect Zimbabwe with the region and internationally. So connectivity is an issue,” she said.
“Then we will also be dealing with the issue of visa regime. As I speak now, South Africa, Botswana and Kenya have opened their borders, but we are still restricted. So we are doing a study to find out on how we can improve our visa regime.
“Remember, when a tourist is coming from Japan or China to where there is visa restriction, obviously he/she will choose Botswana or South Africa ahead of us because their visa restrictions have been eased. So we need to see how we can address this because it’s a real issue.”