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Govt intensifies community-based tourism projects

Tourism and Hospitality Industry deputy minister Barbara Rwodzi

GOVERNMENT has accelerated its bid to develop community-based tourism (CBT) projects as a vehicle to alleviate poverty in rural and marginalised communities, a government official has said.

Community-based tourism refers to tourism experiences hosted and managed by local communities which generate direct economic benefits and are sustainable and responsible.

Speaking at BIT International Tourism Exchange in Italy, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry deputy minister Barbara Rwodzi said government had established four pilot CBT projects which officials believe would evolve to become sustainable enterprises.

“My government has also taken a keen interest to develop community-based tourism projects as a vehicle to alleviate poverty in rural and marginalised communities, in line with SDG 1 (no to poverty). What we have done is to package communities through their history, tradition, daily life, arts and craft, flora and fauna, as unique selling points in communities, and CBT.

“CBT presents the government with opportunities to enhance national tourism competitiveness, alleviation of poverty, environmental conservation and the preservation of local culture and heritage. So far with technical and financial assistance from Japan International Co-operation Agency, Zimbabwe has established four pilot CBT projects, with the hope that these projects will evolve and become sustainable enterprises, while replicating the same models across the country,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s tourism industry has over the past few months recovered by healthy margins underpinned by an aggressive domestic market.

In 2022, the sector recovered to almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels. The steady recovery reflected the strong pent-up demand for international travel as well as the lifting and relaxation of travel restrictions in over 86 countries as of September 2022.

As the sector looks to the further recovery of international visitors and investment, the focus is now on revisiting key trends, priorities and related opportunities to unlock the full growth potential of the tourism sector.

Zimbabwe’s tourism recovery accelerated as tourism facilities and recreation firms reopened, reflecting a strong pent-up demand for international travel, a government official said.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill. It devastated the tourism sector, leading to a GDP loss of nearly US$4,5 trillion and 62 million job losses in 2020. Investments in the tourism sector also fell significantly from US$986 billion in 2019 which amounted to 4,4% of total global investment to US$693 billion in 2020 and 3,2% of total investment, representing a 29,7% drop.

The tourism sector is currently contributing US$1,9 billion to Zimbabwe's GDP. Much more needs to be done in order to triple revenue if it is to reach the government target of US$5 billion by 2025.

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