A LOCAL entrepreneur has invested $55 000 into a backpackers lodge targeting both local and foreign tourists to help the travellers explore the country.
By Staff Writer
Backpacking is a form of low-cost, independent travel. Unlike conventional vacations, it includes the use of public transport, inexpensive lodging such as youth hostels and typically an interest in meeting locals as well as seeing sights.
Backpacking remains a largely untapped industry in Zimbabwe.
“Being able to travel through Africa, I was able to satisfy my belief that despite everything that our country has gone through and is going through, there is so much potential for tourism. I wanted to share that with the rest of the world. Not only do I want non-Zimbabweans to see how amazing Zimbabwe is, but I also want my fellow Zimbabweans to open their eyes to the beauty the Lord has blessed us with,” Patrick Gwatiringa, the owner of the facility, told NewsDay yesterday.
“I say Zimbabweans as well because we have a lot to offer, but it seems that for some, the definition of a perfect holiday is travelling out the country. I say, ‘why not explore what you have in your own back yard and you will better appreciate your home and surroundings’.”
He said that he created the business plan in 2015 and started the project in 2016.
“I also registered the company that same year, and then conducted the renovation and major construction. I received my licence in 2018, and the total investment for the overall project has been US$55 000,” Gwatiringa added.
The lodge, located in one of the medium-density suburbs in the capital, has a double room, a room with two single beds, a dorm room that can hold 10 guests and camping ground that can accommodate a maximum of 30 three-men tents.
In total, the backpacking lodge can host 30 campers and 15 people with plans to further expand the rooms.
“We offer private organised tours on request, bike rentals, and offer information on the goings-on in and around Harare. We are expanding the list of activities as we speak- affordable accommodation,” Gwatiringa said.
Prior to 2015, he worked part time with a tourist company as a tour guide and driver which is where his interest in backpacking travels was piqued.
During his time working of the tourist company, Gwatiringa travelled to Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Botswana, among other countries.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Prisca Mupfumira is on record stating that more is needed to be done in the tourism sector to attract tourists both local and foreign.
She has also previously stated that new forms of tourism and innovations were needed in the sector.
Tourism in the country is currently a billion dollar industry that is considered a low hanging fruit with great potential to generate foreign currency.