TOURISM and Hospitality Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira has extended an olive branch to international tourism investors to take advantage of the new political dispensation in the country and snap the existing investment opportunities.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed $13 million Sewanga Mall in Victoria Falls on Friday last week, Mupfumira said there was need for more investment to revamp the tourism sector infrastructure to meet international standards.
The mall is being developed by Zimre Holdings Limited.
“Victoria Falls is in dire need of product diversification to encourage visitors to this world wonder to stay longer and contribute to national income. Under my leadership, we are, therefore, leaving no stone unturned to convert these inquiries into real investments and this includes the theme park, specialists medical centres, duty-free shopping complexes and an array of luxury hotels, lodges, financial services and sporting facilities for our tourists,”she said.
“Victoria Falls is lagging behind other regional destinations such as Durban and Cape Town in terms of accommodation and conferencing capacity as well as entertainment. With the current room capacity of 1 781, it’s clear that we have inadequate hotels. Victoria Falls is bound to run out of accommodation by 2020, so we need to increase accommodation rooms by not less than 1 500.”
Mupfumira said there was also a need for implementation of visitor-friendly policies to enable renewed visiting confidence.
She said they will be carrying out tourism consultative workshops starting on Thursday in Mutare, Chinhoyi, Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls to solicit for stakeholder input into her ministry’s 100-day national tourism sector strategy.
Victoria Falls town clerk Ronnie Dube appealed to Zimre Holdings to consider unemployed youths for employment at its project.
“ We have a lot of unemployed residents in town and we would like to appeal to you to give them first preference because locals are the ones who are supposed to benefit first. We wouldn’t be happy to see some new faces coming to construct the mall yet there is adequate man power derived from youths.”