Government has said it will soon announce a committee to look into impediments that are constraining the growth in the tourism industry.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The National Tourism Facilitation Committee (NTFC) will ensure government deals with impediments to the sector, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga told a Consultative Workshop for the National Tourism Sector Strategy in Harare yesterday.
“The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has proposed the establishment of a National Tourism Facilitation Committee that will ensure government deals with impediments to travel, and implements pro-tourism policies. I assure the industry that this proposal is receiving due attention and an appropriate announcement will be made as soon as possible,” he said.
The establishment of the NTFC is part of Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira’s six-step strategy in her 100-day plan to grow the sector.
Plans to set up the NTFC comes as government is targeting 2,5 million visitors by the end of this year, up from the 2,42 million recorded in 2017 according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s (ZTA) statistics.
Impediments such as unfavourable pricing, political risk, police roadblocks, visa constraints, and smaller budget towards marketing “destination Zimbabwe” compared to regional countries have made the country uncompetitive in attracting tourists in the region.
Currently, Zimbabwe sits behind South Africa and Botswana in the region in receiving overseas arrivals.
Overseas arrivals are down compared to 1999, with last year recording 474 421 arrivals from
597 010 in 1999.
Among those arrivals, the United States of America is now the biggest source market with 101 206 arrivals having been recorded last year, 73 552 from the United Kingdom and 37 304 from Germany.
Most of these arrivals spent an average of two to three days in Zimbabwe, a figure which is lower than other countries in the region, where they can spend up to a week in those countries.
ZTA statistics from 2017 found that the majority of visitors to Zimbabwe (31,1%), visited the country to see family, friends and relatives compared to those who came for leisure at 18,2%.
Transit arrivals are more than the leisure visitors at 29,5%, the second reason behind most visits into the country.
Potential to grow the country as a market destination is seen in the nearly 12% bump in tourism receipts to $917 million by the end of 2017 from $819 million in 2016.
The sector has a potential to generate $5 billion annually.
“Tourism is undoubtedly a key sector of our national economy that has been contributing significantly to national income, foreign exchange and employment generation,” Chiwenga said.
“. . . government remains convinced that tourism presents other long-term opportunities to grow the economy and improve the livelihoods of our people. Such opportunities should be vigorously pursued and exploited by players in the sector.”
He said the National Tourism Sector Strategy being formulated should take advantage of the prevailing goodwill of the international community by marketing the country as a preferred tourist destination.
Tourism is seen as a low hanging fruit and provides the quickest turnaround ahead of other sectors such as mining and manufacturing. Tourism players believe the renewed confidence arising from the inception of the new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa will lead to the growth in arrivals.