Govt plots tourism growth roadmap

Government is working on a tourism strategy to accelerate the consumption and development of tourism products and services, an official has said.

Speaking at an ease of doing business in the tourism and enablers sectors workshop last week, chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda said a lot still needed to be done to restore the country’s attractiveness and competitiveness.

“A multipronged and robustly implementable strategy has to be put in place to accelerate the consumption and development of tourism products and services,” he said.

Sibanda said in the outlook, Zimbabwe has to implement a robust and viable domestic tourism strategic framework to tap into the local market.

“This will allow Zimbabwe to visit tourist resorts not for conferencing, but largely for leisure and other hospitable opportunities, furthermore the development of domestic tourism is not only anchored on patronage, but on a deliberate strategy to also empower the people to grab opportunities in the sector and establish their own businesses,” he said, adding that the move required collaboration involving government, private sector and development partners.

Sibanda said despite the upgrading of most airports, the majority of the country’s tourist destinations remained inaccessible by airlines and the situation was further exacerbated by the poor state of the roads, that lead to some tourist destinations.

“For instance, since Air Zimbabwe stopped flights to Kariba, the average hotel occupancy rates in Kariba as at June 2016 have plummeted to below 10%. This means that our national airline, Air Zimbabwe has a critical role to play not only in linking Zimbabwe with our overseas markets, but also in facilitating the internal movements of tourists.

“If one looks at the success story of the South Africa tourism industry, it is spurred by the national airline, South African Airways, which is arguably one of the most visible regional airlines that fly to most destinations in the world,” he said.

In his 2016 National Budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said tourism was one of the quick wins under the economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation and as one of the pillars anchoring Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and growth.

He said, however, a lot remained to be done and priorities would be on tourism promotion, infrastructure development, domestic tourism and other destination marketing initiatives.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) forecasts tourist arrivals to increase to 2,5 million in 2016, benefiting from vigorous destination marketing and promotion activities targeted at international and domestic markets.

In the first quarter of the year, tourist arrivals rose to 450 572 from 387 557 recorded during the same period last year, ZTA said.

The increase in the numbers was recorded in arrivals from all the source markets except the Oceania.

Source: NewsDay