Our tourism industry needs more than just rhetoric

EDITORIAL

LAST week, Tourism industry minister, Prisca Mupfumira bemoaned the poor connectivity to one of the country’s prime tourist destinations, Kariba.

While taking note of her obvious worry, we, however, wish to also remind her that it is not only Kariba that is inaccessible, but most of the country.

This country is, undoubtedly, among the world’s best tourist Edens, but is it being hard-done by our poor roads and non-existent or poorly maintained airports and aerodromes. We would have thought that during Cabinet, minister Mupfumira would strongly push her case so that her colleague responsible for connectivity, namely Transport, would act. Tourism is
one of those sectors which, if Mupfumira and her colleague chose to put their heads together, would shore up the country’s economy in a big way.

For instance, all what Kariba needs is a connecting flight and incidentally government actually operates some light aircrafts under the District Development Fund, and we wonder what
those aircraft are currently being used for when there is a need crying out.

Besides Kariba, our beautiful and majestic Eastern Highlands, our Lowveld and our biggest national park, Hwange, all need air connectivity. There are roads to all these destinations,
but air links would make life easier for the tourists who would connect to all these destinations in a matter of a few hours.

Developing our air links is a sure way of lifting our tourism sector from the doldrums. But, unfortunately, at the moment government seems to be clueless on how to revitalise this
economy when we, as a country, are literally sitting on a gold field. And tourism is just one sector that does not require any of the much-harped about foreign direct investment. There
are so many well-heeled locals who can easily book flights to all our destinations if air links are available. The foreign tourist will only come as a bonus.

Which brings us to our next point, which is domestic tourism, which we believe Mupfumira should work hard to promote because this is another given that will surely help shore up our
economy because, for instance, in neighbouring South Africa statistics there show that “domestic tourism plays a critical role in the tourism sector as it generates more than half of the tourism revenue”.

As they say, charity begins at home, so it is high time rhetoric is turned to action as far as the tourism industry is concerned.

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