Zim tourism wins big in Berlin

26 Mar, 2023 - 00:03 0 Views
Zim tourism wins big in Berlin Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu (centre) was named Best Minister of Tourism for Southern Africa at the Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA) Awards in Germany recently

The Sunday Mail

Michael Tome

Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE tourism emerged triumphant at the just-ended International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, securing three integral accolades in recognition of efforts that have been put in place to spur the sector’s performance.

This is a testament to collective efforts that have been crafted by sector stakeholders to buoy tourism performance in the country, propelling it back to its old self while moving with the times.

Zimbabwe bagged the Natural Beauty in Africa Destination of The Year Award while Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu was recognised as the Best Minister of Tourism for Southern Africa. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Winnie Muchanyuka won the Professional Destination Management Award.

The natural beauty award was bestowed on the Southern African country in view of the outstanding natural physiognomies of the majestic Victoria Falls; the pristine wildlife in Hwange; the mystique of the eastern Highlands; and the prolific ecotourism.

It was a recognition of Zimbabwe’s tourism offerings that include the Great Zimbabwe and Lake Kariba, and the high standards in the hospitality industry.

The awards solidify Zimbabwe’s position in tourism, as the industry begins to recover from consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which halted travel throughout the world for almost two years.

Minister Ndlovu was honoured for spearheading disruptive initiatives at a time when Covid-19 was wreaking havoc in the tourism sector. The award was in recognition of the destination’s survival strategies during and after the Covid-19 period.

During the period, Minister Ndlovu internally fronted the domestic tourism drive, complemented by ZTA, launching the ZimBho initiative, a publicity campaign that celebrates the diverse offerings of Zimbabwe’s natural attractions.

The ZimBho campaign’s focus was on encouraging domestic tourism and the spirit of adventure; urging locals to visit the local vacation sites.

As hotels were closed due to travel bans, the industry authorities pushed for service excellence through staff retraining and improving the aesthetics, a move that was arranged by the ZTA, led by Minister Ndlovu.

At the height of the pandemic, the Government introduced policies that cushioned the players — including incentives like tax rebates and a holiday on VAT when buying brand-new capital equipment and vehicles.

The sector also fronted the vaccination drive to allow for the immediate reopening of hotel and conferencing facilities, leading to the rebound of tourism post-Covid-19.

“The campaigning plan was to make sure we get our vaccination right, get things in order so that we reach a threshold where we are allowed to host conferences, especially MICE, which are your meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions and events, which went on very well.

“We were the highest vaccinated country in Southern Africa at some point and it really worked well for us and it worked very well for tourism,” Mr Godfrey Koti, the head of corporate affairs at ZTA, said in an interview.

Tourism is considered a low-hanging fruit for the country in terms of foreign currency generation and employment creation and is part of key sectors that will be critical in achieving sustainable economic growth as enunciated in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1).

As such, the Second Republic has been pushing for the elevation of the tourism and hospitality industry through the development of a national tourism policy to cement and enhance the sector’s recovery, maximising economic returns, at the same time.

President Mnangagwa has doubled up efforts to promote tourism as he recently launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy. The policy seeks to increase investment in the tourism sector.

Investment increased by 239 percent to US$306,7 million in 2022 from US$90,4 million in 2021.

Earnings from the tourism industry in 2022 rose by 133 percent to US$672,9 million from $288,8 million recorded in 2021, as the nation benefitted from the removal of Covid-19- induced travel restrictions and better planning.

Currently, the Government, in collaboration with ZTA, is running the “Invest in Zimbabwe” campaign, where they have come up with ways of engaging with the international market.

According to Minister Ndlovu, the sector is sitting on more than US$300 million worth of investments for 2023 alone. “This tells you that there is a high appetite to invest in the tourism and hospitality sector in the country and we are quite excited about it,” he said.

“In our view, it sends a strong signal, especially to potential investors, that they can come and invest in Zimbabwe because the first citizen himself has been clear and consistent about opening the country for business,” he added.

According to ZTA, the drive seeks to build a tourism industry worth at least US$5 billion by 2025. There has been increased investment in the sector and immense downstream benefits have been realised.

“We have done quite well and the idea is to stretch the economy of tourism into something much bigger. We are working quite well towards that because our receipts are also increasing,” said Mr Koti.

Most of the expenditure has been invested in new hotels in Victoria Falls.

However, the country still has a hotel room deficit and is keen to diversify its product offerings, including the promotion of conference facilities.

This will likely raise Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe’s profile as a tourism destination, giving the country a competitive edge, in terms of hospitality standards when compared with regional peers.

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