GOVERNMENT will facilitate the establishment of a tourism revolving fund for onward lending to tourism players according to the National Tourism Policy (NTP) launched last week.
The policy launch comes at a time when government is battling to keep operations afloat owing to diminished foreign direct investment inflows, an acute liquidity crunch and unabated company closures that have shrunk its tax revenue base among other factors.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi told journalists last year that cabinet had already endorsed the setting up of a tourism revolving fund. He said government was in the process of engaging banks to map the way forward.
To date, nothing has materialised as the expected financial inflows have been hard to come by.
“The government will also help in securing funding and lines of credit for the sector in view of the fact that tourism is capital intensive,” the NTP reads.
The NTP has been formulated to steer tourism development on the basis of sound policy pronouncements to ensure competitiveness of the tourism industry in the regional and global context.
The ministry says the policy was created in order to provide a policy framework for tourism development in Zimbabwe.
The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry will promulgate an implementation matrix for the NTP in the form a Strategic Implementation plan, as the plan will articulate how the policy pronouncements will be translated into action plans incorporating specific timelines and appropriate responsibilities.
As part of the array of tourism development policies, the ministry will incorporate product diversification, product quality and standards, research and information management as well as domestic tourism development among other objectives.
Critics argue that Zimbabwe does not have a tourism package which visitors can refer to when deciding to visit the country, and resultantly travel agencies based in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia have hugely benefitted at the expense of the country.
Policy inconsistencies have also been cited as the bane of economic resuscitation which has negatively affected all sectors of the economy including tourism and the services industry.
The NTP aims to position tourism as a major engine for economic growth in the country and position the country to take advantage of the burgeoning global travel trade.
The document takes into account economic, cultural, social, environmental and institutional policy objectives.
The policy targets to increase tourist arrivals to 3,2 million by 2015 from 2,5 million.
The policy projects an increase in tourism receipts to 1,8 billion by 2015 from $749 millionand improve participation of locals in tourism.
The success of the NTP is predicated on suitable conditions such as a stable macro-economic environment, political stability, functionality of enablers such as ICT systems, water, electricity and the provision of funding.
“Taking into account the dynamics of the changing environment, the ministry will institute mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the NTP at relevant time periods,” the policy said.