‘Promote domestic tourism’
2 October 2017
TOURISM players in the country have been called to make their prices affordable to the ordinary Zimbabweans as the Government seeks to promote domestic tourism.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said while it is important that the country attracts foreign investors, it was critical to promote domestic tourism so that Zimbabweans enjoy tourism facilities throughout the country.
“This presents a clear opportunity for our industry. The challenge that we have is that most of our facilities are beyond the reach of our local people in terms of cost.
“I’m therefore imploring the industry to explore innovative ways of promoting domestic tourism. How can we effectively use technology to reach out for the domestic tourists?”
The Minister made the remarks last Friday in Bulawayo as he officiated this year’s 10th edition of the Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo.
“How can the industry offer competitive prices and value for money or simply how can the industry make it easier for Zimbabweans to holiday at home. The industry should seriously consider these issues.”
Minister Chinamasa said tourism was a critical sector in terms of its contribution to the key economic aggregates including national output, employment creation and generation of foreign currency hence the need for strategies to improve its performance.
“I highlighted in my 2016 economic performance review that tourism is a low-hanging fruit that has the potential to generate quick wins for the country. However, investment in destination marketing is required in order to unlock the huge potential in the country’s tourism sector,” he said.
The Minister argued that promoting tourism would help stimulate demand for locally produced products while at the same time empowering local communities. Further noting that the industry has the potential to generate much-needed foreign currency. However, leakages and lack of transparency in the accounting of the foreign currency earnings continue to undermine the country’s recovery efforts.
He said there was need for collaborative efforts in the marketing of Zimbabwe as an attractive tourist destination. To do that, he called for an inventory of tourist assets including the marketing of the arts and culture as well as museums and national monuments. He called for ring-fencing of tourism assets like the Save Conservancy and encouraged the adoption of the open skies policy.
As the Minister set the tone for the premier show, he outlined several measures the Government was employing to revive the tourism sector.
The Minister urged all the value-chain players in the tourism sector to play their role in facilitating the development of tourism in the country. He said staging the Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism Expo demonstrates the importance of collaborating in promoting tourism. He alluded to several policies that the government is implementing in order to transform the sector.
The Government is investing in supporting infrastructure development with plans to dualise the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Highway. To date, the government has rehabilitated 22, 000km of road network.
Fiscal incentives are being extended to tourism as part of efforts to revive the sector according to Minister Chinamasa noting that the enactment of special economic zones corridor will be extended to include places like the Eastern Highlands and Gonarezhou Game Park. There are efforts to improve the immigration laws to advance economic diplomacy, create tourism development zones and improve budgetary support for destination marketing and promotion.
The Government has since enacted the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) legislation, and the SEZ Board is now in place. In the area of tourism, the Victoria Falls-Hwange-Binga-Kariba-Mana Pools tourism corridor will be developed as a Special Tourism Economic Zone. Operators located within the Tourism Development Zones have also continued to benefit under Statutory Instrument (SI) 50 of 2006, which gives duty rebate on capital goods for registered tourism operators located within the Tourism Development Zones.
Meanwhile international buyers who attended the expo expressed concern over high police presents in the country’ s roads noting that they were constantly stopped as they did a pre-tour of the country.
The buyers argued that while it was critical to have police in the country’s roads, the frequency of police checks and road blocks was too high and frustrating tourists noting that this could derail tourism gains for the country.