TOURISM and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi has said his ministry was finalising plans to set a travel scheme incentive for civil servants to allow them go on holiday at reduced costs as part of plans to boost local tourism, a government official has said.
Mzembi told Parliament on Wednesday that government, working in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and industry representatives, had set up a task-force envisaged to come up with travel incentive for civil servants.
He said the incentives were expected to unlock the huge potential that lies in domestic tourism.
“I pronounced in Cabinet that I have directed my ministry and stakeholders to immediately come up with an incentive, a travel scheme that will commence first with civil servants,” said Mzembi.
“We are going to incentivise it by making sure that civil servants take at least three days out of 365 days a year where they are compelled to take a holiday,” he added.
There has been a public outcry that the holiday resorts appear to be a prerogative of foreigners and other high net-worth locals at the expense of civil servants who constitute the bulk of government workers due to exorbitant prices charged to tourists.
Most civil servants presently earn far below the poverty datum line estimated at nearly $600.
As part of efforts to improve domestic tourism, Mzembi said his ministry was also engaging the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to come up with initiatives to also compel schools to go on holiday trips adding that plans to implement the initiative were already at advanced stages.
“We are on the shopping list of at least 100 vehicles, that include an assortment of vehicles and minibuses that shall be stationed in provinces and will be at the call of schools and this will promote this side of tourism,” he added.
Mzembi said the government would in a couple of weeks be launching a new tourism policy, that captures the drafting-in of local communities into the economic value chain in the tourism sector by partly compelling the hospitality industry to procure its inputs particularly agriculture produce locally.
Mzembi said after the successful hosting of the 20th Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in August in the
resort town of Victoria Falls, the government was working on improving domestic tourism.
He said government had set up a tourism master plan which would partly include promotion of tourism in provinces starting with Victoria Falls, Kariba and Masvingo as Phase 1 of the plan although he was quick to point out that government was incapacitated by financial constraints to implement the plan.
According to figures from ZTA, the country recorded a 12% increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of the year to 859 995 up from the 767 393 registered in the same period the previous year and the figure is expected to go up next year backed by the successful hosting of UNWTO General Assembly.