Zimbabwe towards $5bn economy

The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry set the wheels turning in its ambitious dream to achieve a $5 billion tourism economy by the year 2020 when it hit the $1 billion mark at the close of 2015. The tourism sector’s continued growth and steady increase in number of tourist arrivals, thanks to various promotional campaigns, has been attributed to this positive and great strides towards the mega dream.

While a lot of investment and recapitalisation is needed for any other sector like mining, or agriculture to tick, the country needs not to break the bank so as to fund the tourism sector.

What counts most are more international arrivals. The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism at its annual convention recently held in Victoria Falls also emphasised the need by hospitality players to offer incentives that encourage domestic tourism.

The confidence of Zimbabwe achieving the US$5 billion economy is also being spurred by the changing economic trends where tourism is now regarded the world over as the modern-day engine for growth.

Tourism is also emerging as one of the largest industries globally.

Minister Mzembi said tourism as a sector has already managed a US$1 billion mark in 2015 and expressed optimism that the US$5 billion target by the year 2020 was achievable.

“Where is our source of optimism? The source of optimism is that the sector has become a proverbial corner-stone to the house called Zimbabwe. This is so because as tourism we have reached the US$1 billion mark when the country is in itself a US$4 billion economy,” said Minister Mzembi.

He said other Southern African countries set themselves much bigger and ambitious targets compared to Zimbabwe’s US$5 billion tourism economy benchmark.

“South Africa, our neighbour is targeting $12 billion by the year 2020, Tanzania wants $17 billion by the year 2025 so our $5 billion target is realistic,” he said.

Given the fact that the destination Zimbabwe which once suffered a character assassination is steadfastly regaining its ground as one of the best destinations in Southern Africa, the $5 billion tourism economy is achievable if efforts to package this beautiful destination are doubled.

One of the pointers to this dream is last year’s statistics which reveal that the country recorded a 12 percent increase in the number of tourist arrivals between 2014 and 2015. The overwhelming support that such events like the Harare International Carnival continue to receive with thousands of people, locals and foreigners converging for the street jamboree every year is also a source of inspiration.

Last year 17 countries took part in the Harare International Carnival. But apart from exerting all efforts in promoting international tourism, below are some areas that the country needs to look into so as to realise the fruits of tourism as a sector.

Domestic Tourism

Zimbabweans are famed as a peace loving lot but they do also love fun and partying. Yet the majority are still to discover their country. They do not know that their country is endowed with beauty. Tourism ministry in conjunction with ZTA should thus come up with an aggressive ‘know your Zimbabwe campaign’ so as to promote domestic tourism.

In South Africa, domestic tourism is an important source of revenue and employment, contributing 52 percent of total tourism consumption according to that country’s National Tourism Sector Report 2011.

Cultural tourism

Zimbabwe is home to diverse cultures ranging from the Remba culture, the Tonga, Bocha, Ndebele, to the Doma people in the northern parts of the country. Each culture has evolved with its own distinctive art forms, music and traditional rituals. All this should be packaged for the consumption of a tourist.

Eco-tourism

Zimbabwe’s diverse climate range from tropical hot dry and wintry to chill weather in the eastern parts put it as the best destination to tourists intending to discover diverse climatic conditions. The spectacular scenery of high mountain ranges to vast grass plains, from meandering rivers to wildlife jungles puts Zimbabwe as the best tourist destination. Zimbabwe’s wildlife is far more varied than just the celebrated “Big Five”, even the tiniest of a wildlife species is abound in Zimbabwe.

Source: The Southern Times