TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi is pushing government to extend legislation enabling tourism operators to import vehicles and capital goods duty free to enable the industry to spruce up its operations ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly later this year.
Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Environmental and Tourism on the progress made by his ministry in preparation of co-hosting the UNWTO General Assembly on Monday, Mzembisaid tourism operators had urged the government to come up with friendly laws.
“The statutory instrument 124 and 199 of 2012 which enables players in the tourism sector to import capital goods duty-free, should be extended to the end of 2013. The statutory instrument 199 on motor vehicles which is restricted to safari operators should be opened up to all players,” Mzembi said.
The statutory instrument is due to lapse in June this year.
The extension to year end and a waiver on capital goods, according to Mzembi, would also enable hotels to retool.
Mzembi said: “We don’t have a local industry that can produce the kind of high quality product utensil which the tourism industry requires.”
In the 2013 national budget Finance Minister Tendai Biti extended the statutory instrument 124 and 125 of 2011 for another six months, which allows the importation of capital goods for the industry duty free.
Mzembi last month told a visiting UNWTO chief of conferences Munur Rayes and regional director for Africa Ousmane Ndiaye that Zimbabwe was ready for the conference.
He, however, said the UNWTO general assembly set for August was not a “cash-in” event where industry players should plot to bleed the visiting delegates, but an opportunity to market the country that has over the years been portrayed as a pariah state.
“This is a marketing opportunity for brand Zimbabwe and to the maximum extent possible what we must be focusing on is the post-general assembly benefits. It can’t be that we are lying in wait to bleed the delegates as much as possible,” he said.